Participants warm-up for the annual InspireHealth Rain Walk in Victoria. InspireHealth has had an uptick in the amount of daily patient encounters since COVID-19, all of it by telephone and through virtual meetings online. On Friday the clinic, which supports people with cancer and their caregivers, is hosting an online fundraiser of virtual classes for the public. (File photo)

Oak Bay clinic opens virtual classes to public for fundraiser

Patient activity is up for cancer-supporting clinic during COVID-19 crisis

Since mid-March, InspireHealth clinic in Oak Bay has increased its daily encounters with patients from about 60 to more than 100.

Part of the reason is their proactive patient base, who are either battling cancer or are a caregiver for someone with cancer, looking to stay as healthy as possible. And part of the reason is that InspireHealth’s various programming is even more accessible now that it’s online, said Rachel Mark, the clinic’s team lead for exercise therapy.

Unfortunately, the non-profit is staring at a hole in the fiscal budget as it will be unable to host its annual gala in the fall, a crucial piece of yearly revenue.

READ ALSO: Nearly 30,000 people in B.C. will get a cancer diagnosis this year

So to help make up some of the anticipated financial gap, InspireHealth’s clinicians are inviting the public to join any of the six online classes on Friday for exercise, yoga, Qi Gong, Zumba and cooking.

These are classes that would otherwise be reserved for patients that are a lot bigger than people realize, Mark said, with funds raised going to support cancer patients in our community.

And they’re a lot of fun, Mark adds.

“I’ve had more than 60 people in a class exercising on Zoom at one time, it’s pretty neat considering it’s me leading from my basement,” Mark said. “It’s a silver lining that we’ve been able to connect with more patients.”

The reality is that from the outset of B.C.’s COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdown, the novel coronavirus has meant further isolation for people who were immuno-compromised.

Before COVID-19 struck, InspireHealth offered a weekly meditation class online. When InspireHealth eventually reopens its doors – for which there is no timeline at the moment – it will do so with both online classes and in-person sessions.

“It’s clear that there’s a need for virtual programming,” Mark said.

In the meantime the virtual meetings and classes, and the telephone sessions, have all been extremely beneficial during the pandemic, Mark added.

READ ALSO: InspireHealth’s Rain Walk returns Saturday to raise funds for cancer support

“Friday we are anticipating large numbers in our classes, there’s lots of interest,” Mark said. “Our programming is confidential so on Friday, we want to open a window for the public to see what we do.”

Typical programming for patients features exercise, yoga, cooking, support groups, nutrition, meditation, and one-on-one sessions.

The event is also in honour of National Health and Fitness Day on June 6.

InspireHealth has a team of physicians, clinical counsellors, exercise therapists, registered dietitians and nutritionists who offer one-on-one consultations, group programming and individualized support. The benefits of regular exercise for cancer patients include decreased treatment-related side effects such as anxiety, depression, and fatigue, as well as improved quality of life, physical functioning, and overall well-being.

reporter@oakbaynews.com


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