Heart Month Profile: Dena Szura, Clerk, Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Program

Dena Szura, is a Clerk with the Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Program (Cardiac Rehab).

It’s Heart Month, and we’re highlighting staff and departments at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre who play a vital role in cardiovascular care. Today, we’re sharing some Q&A with Dena Szura, a Clerk with the Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Program (Cardiac Rehab).

What does it take to be a Clerk in the Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Program (Cardiac Rehab)?

Multi-tasking and organizational skills are essential. Our program provides care for Thunder Bay as well as 12 regional sites in Northwestern Ontario. I am responsible for maintaining a database of the clients referred to Cardiac Rehab as well as connecting with all clients by phone or by mail. I provide clients with an overview of the program and gauge their interest. If they are interested, I will book them for 12 appointments over 12 weeks, including individual appointments in our clinic with our nurses and doctor, a variety of education sessions with our nurses, Kinesiologists, Social Worker and Dietician and a one-on-one with our Registered Dietician. Currently, our clinic is virtual so most of these appointments are organized via Webex or by telephone. We also utilize Telemedicine for our regional clients.

What is unique about your role?

I am the first point of contact for these clients. Their care journey with us will sometimes last for three to six months. We get to form trusting relationships and a sense of community with these clients as we help them on their road to recovery.

What inspired you to work in the Cardiac Rehab Program and in cardiac care?

I was looking for a change from my previous position and the opportunity came up to work in Cardiac Rehab. At the time, I was working behind the scenes and had minimal client interaction. I was really interested in working with and having more interaction with clients. It was great timing and it feels like it was meant to be.

How does your role impact patient care?

I am the first person that the clients see when they walk in the door. I want to make them feel welcomed and let them know that they are in a caring and comfortable environment. I receive all calls and make sure their questions are appropriately answered.

On the concept of practice what you preach, do you have any personal tips on how to stay heart healthy?

I am aware of cardiac risk factors and the importance of prevention so that inspires me to exercise 45 minutes each day, three to four times a week, in addition to daily stretching. I try to eat healthy and take additional supplements. I also have started juicing, not to replace meals, but to supplement my meals with micronutrients. I also drink a lot of water.

Any final thoughts?

It is with mixed emotions that I contemplate retirement in the next couple of years. It is not just a job for me. We have such a great group of staff and volunteers that I am among family when I am here. I hope to be able to continue to be a part of Cardiac Rehab in some way in the future.