The C.W. Wiebe Medical Centre in Winkler is set to conduct a cardiac rehab pilot project utilizing the Meridian Exhibition Centre (MEC).

The program will start on June 15th and run for six weeks. It will involve cardiac patients from this area participating twice a week for two hours a day, according to Jim Neufeld, manager for the medical centre.

"It will be a rehab program largely based on the same kind of program would be run out of the Reh-Fit Centre in Winnipeg, obviously on a different scale, but following the same kind of process that program would do."

Neufeld the benefits of a rehab program for heart patients is well documented, but it becomes a challenge for patients to participate regularly if they're forced to drive to Winnipeg. He says they want to determine the value of establishing a rehab program that is closer to home.

"We often see individuals will start and then they opt out after a period of time because it's not something they can arrange in their lives at that point. So we're confident of the value of this for the patients and we're trying to reduce some of the barriers to participation."

Neufeld says the pilot program can accommodate up to 10 patients at one time, and their intention is to run the program about six times a year.

He says it's something they've wanted to try in the community for some time, but they needed the right kind of facility. He says the MEC has everything they're looking for.

"We've been through the facility and we think it will be excellent for what we're trying to deliver. Our intention is to get our first cohort of patients into this program starting on June 15th. In regards to COVID, we might have to make some alterations to that, or delay it, or run it more as a virtual program. We have some ideas on how we could do both of those, so we're going to just wait and see where things are at by June 15th."