Upstream improves lives of patients and families living with COPD

Tina Manuel, respiratory therapist, Horizon Health Network, Fredericton Area 

Hello everyone! My name is Tina Manuel and I am a respiratory therapist and a certified respiratory educator for the Horizon Health Network in the Fredericton Area.

I’d like to talk to you about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or what we commonly refer to as COPD.

COPD refers to lung disease where airways can become obstructed or blocked. It’s also referred to as chronic bronchitis or emphysema.

Did you know COPD is the No. 2 reason for hospital admissions across Horizon? COPD-related admissions are second only to babies being born!  

The average length of stay in hospital for a patient with COPD is nine days. But, there is an opportunity to change the approach to managing this chronic disease.

With education and support on an outpatient basis, patients are supported to manage their COPD and be less dependent on the health care system.

In my work, part of my duties includes being the project lead for the Upstream program. Upstream is an expansion of the hospital-based program for those living with COPD.

Through Upstream, we offer:

  • Spirometry (a breathing test) screening for COPD confirmation
  • Self-management education
  • Individualized COPD action plans
  • Psychosocial and spiritual care support
  • Smoking cessation
  • Individualized after-hours support offered through sharing COPD action plans with Tele-Care 811

The main goals of Upstream are simple, and affect all New Brunswickers:

  • Early identification assists patients and their families develop skills to manage the disease
  • Improve quality of life for patients and families
  • Reduce hospital admissions
  • Reduce emergency room visits

Patients and families living with COPD report having a better understanding of the disease and a more active lifestyle when they’re supported with individualized action plans. Everyone wins when there is less time waiting for care in the emergency room.

Upstream was initially started with temporary funding from the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement as part of the INSPIRED 2.0 nation wide collaborative.

Upstream is currently implemented at 17 health centres across Horizon with three more sites in the planning process.

The latest statistics (Sept. 30, 2019) tell us:

  • Across Horizon, since March 2018 1,060 patients have been screened for COPD
  • 357 have been diagnosed with COPD
  • 311 patients have been provided with individualized education and support through the Upstream program

If you, or someone you know are over the age of 40, have a history of tobacco use, and say yes to any question on Lung Health TestUpstream can help! 

Please email or call1-833-247-2673. You do not need a referral, you can call us directly to make an appointment.