One of the dire consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the bright spotlight on the impact of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) on barbadians.
The viral disease has had a serious impact on people with noncommunicable diseases, with deaths in the elderly comparatively high as in those with no history of heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.
A local organization that is often on the forefront of helping Barbados manage their heart problems and educating them about the best ways they should eat and exercise to lead healthier lives is the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
During a recent interview with Barbados TODAY
The Foundation’s CEO, Michelle Daniel, provided an in-depth look at how the organization first became aware of COVID-19 in early 2020 and how the Foundation has adapted to the challenge of continuing to serve its customers in these uncertain times.
“What it turned out was the Wednesday after [charity polo fundraiser] Event we had [in March]We have decided to close our doors to external customers.
“During this time, from the point of view of the Medical Director in relation to our rehabilitation department, our administrative coordinator as well as at board level would have spoken to each other to understand what our next steps are and where we stand with regard to our operations.
“One of the things that came out of the good was that we knew we needed to continue caring for our most critical patients in the heart prevention and rehabilitation department, and so our home heart rehabilitation was in place for the period,” Daniel said.
Because most of the programs offered by the foundation are primarily based on face-to-face interactions, the use of online services for customers has been widely adopted by the non-profit organization.
“We had to put a lot of our services online – for the youth gym, for the kids, since they would have been a vulnerable group too, we had to pause this, but they too found a way to innovate in terms of innovation having sessions online [with] We stay in contact with parents and students via WhatsApp. We have also continued the nutrition sessions that are part of the youth fitness program and also conducted them online with virtual sessions.
“The idea was for Heart and Stroke to find a way to keep serving its customers. We are not a gym, we are a quasi-medical facility – so we could not come to a standstill, we could look for ways to remain functional even in a reduced state, ”she said.
With NCDs being one of the main factors in COVID-19 positive individuals who experience more severe symptoms, Daniel hopes more Barbadians will begin to realize the importance of a healthy lifestyle, especially those who are already living with NCD.
“That’s one of our mandates – raising public awareness of noncommunicable diseases. Whether heart problems, strokes, heart attacks and diabetes, and in relation to many of the customers with other underlying diseases. This has been at the top of Heart and Stroke news for many years. We aim to reach the public for their understanding of what it means, if you have an illness or not you may have a family member who does. That’s why you’ll hear how we emphasize why Barbadians should eat healthily.
“It’s why we exist. To make people’s lives better, not just from our internal customers, but also from Barbados, on how to deal with people with NCDs and how to minimize or avoid developing a NCD, ”Daniel added. (SB)