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Heart attack survivor concerned with temporary closure of Bridgewater cardiac clinic

Nicole Nickerson, 36, survived two heart attacks in her early 30s. She’s frustrated a heart clinic in Bridgewater, N.S., is temporarily shut down. She only found out about the closure after calling the clinic.

Nicole Nickerson was 30 years old when she had her first heart attack. (Submitted by Nicole Nickerson)

A survivor of multiple heart attacks says the temporary closure of a Bridgewater, N.S., heart clinic came without any warning or notice to the people in the community who use it.

“I was really frustrated because it’s such an asset to our community and there was no proactive communication to the patients,” Nicole Nickerson, 36, told CBC’s Mainstreet in an interview on Thursday.

The Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) and Heart Function Clinic temporarily ceased operation on Jan. 31, 2020, due to a recent vacancy, said the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA).

A nurse practitioner who used to work at the clinic accepted another position in the Bridgewater area.

Nurse practitioner needed

In a statement to Mainstreet, the health authority said recruitment to fill the nurse practitioner position is underway.

“Patients who had been seen in this clinic will continue to receive care from their primary care provider at their family practice or by their internal medicine specialist,” the health authority statement read.

“NSHA is working with patients of this clinic on their follow-up care plan.”

The health authority didn’t specify a date when the clinic would reopen.

Nickerson, of Lunenburg, N.S., said the most important service at the clinic for her is cardiac rehab.

“A few months later, you meet with them and they do a stress test on you and walk you through your new life because basically the life you knew before is no more,” she said.

“And so they get you exercising again and teach you about your medications and just general life with heart disease now.”

Heart health is always top of mind, Nickerson said, with taking medications and following through with the exercise.

Heart clinic importance

Prior to the temporary closure, Nickerson said the clinic was always full.

Having the clinic in the community had always been a source of comfort for Nickerson, who has suffered two heart attacks.

“It’s just a reassurance I suppose, but above that I feel that everybody on the South Shore should have the same opportunity as people like myself who went through their cardiac rehab and now feel better,” Nickerson said.

“It’s a scary place … after you’ve had a heart attack and you have a million questions, but you have nowhere to turn.”

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