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Local group praises new stroke initiative

A local group that supports stroke survivors as well as their caregivers and families is lauding a new initiative area that targets stroke patients in the Waterloo-Wellington area.

“It’s really the first time for our region that there has been an integrated approach, from the moment of stroke” to later back at home after recovery, says Al Raftis, co-chair of the Guelph Wellington Stroke Recovery support group.

The group, a chapter of the March of Dimes, was “one of the organizations at the table working on this,” he said.

The initiative includes now having dedicated staff at Guelph General Hospital focused on treating stroke victims. Up to now, stoke victims had to go to Grand River Hospital in Kitchener for “clot-busting drugs,” but no more, Raftis said in an interview. Also as part of the new initiative, St. Joseph’s Health Centre is to add a dedicated stroke unit to its rehabilitative programs by April.

The initiative also includes creating better awareness of community supports, including Guelph Wellington Stroke Recovery, said Raftis, whose wife is a stroke survivor.

“Stroke has been under the radar generally in our health care system in many ways,” he said. “We know this is a very positive move for the stroke community.”

Guelph Wellington Stroke Recovery has more than 100 members, including caregivers, stroke survivors and some family members. It runs various programs, including one that sends University of Guelph students to visit stroke survivors in their homes to provide companionship and other help, such as teaching people how to operate computers with one hand, he said.

“Together with other community partners, our organization works with stroke survivors and their caregivers in the weeks, months and years after their stroke, offering support, encouragement and socialization,” Raftis said.

The new community stroke care initiatives will improve the opportunity for significant recovery for patients and will provide much better access to community resources, he said.

Guelph Wellington Stroke Recovery can be contacted at 519-822-5111 or through its website:

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