New COPD service launches in Cowichan

An assessment, education and support service for people with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms has been created within Cowichan’s Community Health Services (CHS) division. The COPD team consists of a registered respiratory therapist, pharmacist and behavioral health clinician, with access to the larger CHS team.  

“The Cowichan Valley’s new COPD service is captured within our Cowichan Health and Care Plan,” says Dr. Michelle Weizel, Executive Medical Director, Cowichan and Cowichan District Hospital Replacement Project. “Initiatives like this one are designed to enhance community health services and patient flow through acute care by supporting people to stay well at home and avoid unnecessary hospital visits and admissions.”

Working in partnership with a patient’s primary care provider, Cowichan’s COPD team provides assessments, education on self management skills for COPD, and ongoing support as clients make lifestyle changes to improve their health.  The team can also refer clients to Home Health Monitoring, home oxygen services, community paramedicine, home support services, CHS professional services, palliative care, or community volunteer agencies to support their ongoing care needs.

“The Cowichan Valley has one of the highest incidences of COPD in British Columbia, and as our population ages and grows, the need for a dedicated COPD service has also increased,” says Brett Leppan, community respiratory therapist, Cowichan COPD Service. “The aim of the service is to increase patients’ confidence in self-managing COPD, improve their quality of life by reducing symptom severity, and decrease the need for hospitalization.”

It is estimated that 50% of COPD clients can avoid hospitalization through this education and support.

The COPD service is available by referral only to clients across the Cowichan Valley, through clinic appointments at the Ladysmith CHS and Duncan CHS sites, or via home visits if necessary. For more information about the referral process, patients with moderate to severe COPD are invited to call Cowichan Community Health Services at (250) 739-5749 or toll-free 1(877) 734-4101.