Medwatch miracles

Sue Selzler has become a passionate advocate for the program that saved her life.

The West Kelowna senior is speaking out about the Medwatch Program, with the hope that other people will benefit in the same way.

“It’s the best thing that has come to our community,” says Selzler. “I’ve been to hospital by ambulance quite a few times. Sometimes you are so sick, you can barely hold your head up, much less talk.” Once she had blood clots in her heart and lung, but was treated quickly, thanks in part to Medwatch.

Medwatch is brilliant in its simplicity. When Selzler is in need of emergency medical assistance, her husband just directs emergency personnel to the refrigerator (which has a Medwatch sticker on the door), where a Medwatch vial contains 2 pages of her medical information – including medications, health conditions and previous surgeries.

Without Medwatch, emergency responders would search the home of the individual to find out what medications they are taking, or wait until the information is available digitally.

“The paramedics just love this program,” says Selzler. They told her that if everyone had Medwatch, critical medical attention would be available faster.

“I have told so many of my friends, and gotten them the bottle and helped them fill out their information,” she says. Neighbours spot the sticker on her refrigerator and ask for more information. The vials are also handy to have in a purse, or in the car, and there is a wallet size card that works well for men. Keeping the information updated is key– Selzler recommends using a pencil to fill out things that change over time (like your age).

Medwatch is run by the Westside Health Network, an organization dedicated to supporting seniors in West Kelowna and Peachland. In 12 years, over 25,000 of the Medwatch vials have been distributed through the Westside Health Network office, Peachland Wellness Centre, doctors’ offices, flu clinics, Wal-Mart Safety Week, and Zellers Seniors Day.

Westside Health Network Executive Director Sonia Newman credits “a superb team of twenty-five volunteers” for the success of the program. With 3000 volunteer hours per year dedicated to assembling, distributing and promoting the Medwatch kits, the program is very cost-effective to deliver.

The Medwatch program has even been replicated in the community of Squamish, thanks to a woman, who after having a stroke in West Kelowna went back to visit and told her life saving experience to her friends.

The program is not only available for seniors – younger individuals and families can also benefit from the service, especially if there are serious health issues. More volunteers are always needed for Medwatch and other programs.

Change starts here, because an innovative program saves lives. Westside Health Network is a United Way Community Partner Agency. To find out more about Medwatch and other programs, visit http://www.westsidehealthnetwork.com/ or call 250-768-3305 or drop in to their office at 2300 Carrington Road in West Kelowna (they are on the 2nd floor).

To find out how you can be part of change, visit www.unitedwaycso.com

More Change Starts Here articles

About the Author

The mission of United Way is to improve lives and build community by engaging individuals and mobilizing collective action.

We call this our Community Impact Mission. Community impact is about achieving meaningful, long-term improvements to the quality of life in Canadian communities, by addressing not just the symptoms of problems but also getting at the root causes. It’s about making fundamental changes to community conditions.

United Way is achieving this mission by moving people from poverty to possibility, promoting healthy people and strong communities, and supporting all that kids can be.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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