Island Health expands heart health services in the Central Island

People living with heart health challenges will have access to more exam rooms, improved privacy and enhanced educational supports thanks to the expansion and relocation of Island Health’s Nanaimo Heart Function Clinic. 

“More people will get medical assessment, monitoring, education and treatment at the new expanded Nanaimo Heart Function Clinic,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and MLA for Nanaimo. “Health-care workers told me last week what a big difference it will make for Nanaimo.”

“The Nanaimo Heart Function Clinic plays an important role in helping people manage and address issues related to their heart, while also reducing the pressures heart-related emergencies have on our hospitals,” said Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo North Cowichan. “This new facility will go a long way to providing staff with the additional space and tools they need to expand their work to meet the growing needs of our community.”

“In the last two years, the Heart Function Clinic has almost doubled the amount of patients we see annually,” said Sarah Currie, the lead heart function nurse clinician at the clinic. “Our multi-disciplinary team of three physicians, three nurses, a pharmacist, social worker and support staff sees close to 600 patients per year to help them live better quality and longer lives with their heart failure condition. We would like to help more people manage their heart failure, so moving to a larger space with more exam rooms and a space for educational workshops will be really beneficial.”

The Nanaimo Heart Function Clinic, currently located at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH), provides medical assessment, monitoring, education and treatment. The multi-disciplinary team works in collaboration with the patient and their family to diagnose, tailor treatment and provide coaching and support to help patients manage their symptoms, live longer and improve their quality of life. 


Team members of the Nanaimo Heart Function Clinic 

The new location at 202 – 1621 Dufferin Crescent includes three additional exam rooms and more space to accommodate new staff. It will provide greater patient privacy, create better patient flow, offer better parking and allow the staff to see more patients concurrently. With access to a meeting room in the new space, planning is also underway to provide patients with educational clinics about self-management, lifestyle, nutrition, medications and exercise in the context of heart failure care.  

Greg Gunness has been a patient of the Nanaimo Heart Function Clinic for seven years after suffering a heart attack at age 63 while on vacation in the United States. Gunness receives regular scans of his heart to ensure everything is working properly and has his medications adjusted as necessary. “I have so much gratitude for the wonderful staff at the clinic who are like family to me,” he said. “I see how hard they work and how cramped their current space is to work in. I am really happy they are getting a new facility that will improve their work environment.”

“Heart failure remains one the world’s deadliest illnesses, affecting patients across the lifespan and in every demographic group,” said Dr. Hesam Keshmiri, lead cardiologist at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and Director of the Heart Function Clinic. “Each year, almost 4,000 patients in Island Health are diagnosed with heart failure. By diagnosing and managing their symptoms as outpatients from the clinic, we are reducing heart failure-related hospitalizations and lessening the burden on the health-care system.”

“Expanding heart health services in the Central Island is an urgent priority, particularly given the high burden of cardiac disease within the population of the region,” said Damian Lange, Interim Executive Director of Clinical Operations at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. “This expansion will include adding in further clinical resources, recruiting cardiologists, as well as providing dedicated leadership resources to ensure the program continues to meet current and future demands.”

The expanded clinic at 202 – 1621 Dufferin Crescent in Nanaimo will open December 5. A referral from your primary care provider or another medical specialist is required prior to being seen in the clinic.