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A Patient's Experience in the COPD Program

“If you are willing to work with them, they are most certainly willing to work with you.” Carol Smith-Gee said with a smile, as she reflected on her experience in the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Program (COPD) offered by the Intensive Rehabilitation Outpatient Program (IROP) at Woodstock Hospital.

“I am a patient of the St. Joseph’s Asthma Centre in London,” explained Carol. “In August 2019, I was diagnosed with COPD and being from Ingersoll, I was excited to learn that I could be referred to a program closer to home at Woodstock Hospital.”

COPD is a slowly progressive respiratory disease that causes the airways of the lung to become inflamed and restrict airflow. “The COPD program is a monitored group exercise class with education sessions offered once per week for six weeks,” explained Sean Willis, Director of Therapy and the Woodstock Rehabilitation Clinic. “The program provides patients with information about COPD, medication use, exercise, posture, breathing techniques, energy conservation, nutrition and coping with a COPD diagnosis.”

The COPD program healthcare team includes a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, respiratory therapist, recreational therapist, social worker, dietitian and physiotherapist/occupational therapist assistant. “The staff really understood each patient and knew if a patient was having an off day,” said Carol. “Staff would encourage the patient to do what they could that day and to listen to their bodies when doing the exercises.”

Upon completion of the six week program, patients are eligible to continue in the COPD Maintenance Program, which consists of one hour of exercise, once a week for 12 weeks. Upon completion of the COPD Maintenance Program, patients can transition to the YMCA COPD Program at a discounted rate.

“One of the most valuable things I learned was actually what COPD and asthma is,” said Carol. “I never really had anyone sit down and explain it to me. Now that I understand what it is I have, I can recognize that if I am feeling a little bit off, it could be that something has triggered my COPD.”

Carol said that every week there was an opportunity to learn something new. “The information they send home with you is also beneficial. I often look back on the information package I was sent home with, and share what I have learned with my friends and family.”