Regina man says program meant to curb hospital visits saved his life

A Regina man says a program meant to cut down on frequent hospital visits saved his life.

Ken Manitopyes used to visit the hospital once a week before he joined the program

Ken Manitopyes says meeting people who cared about his health helped him to care about it too. (Mike Zartler/CBC)

A Regina man says a program meant to cut down on frequent hospital visits saved his life.

Ken Manitopyes, who now sees a doctor regularly to help manage his chronic health conditions, was previously part of a relatively small group of patients who use a disproportionately large number of health care services.

The province estimated that one per cent of "high use" patients were using 20 per cent of health care services when it announced money to try to address the problem in 2014.

Manitopyes has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as well as diabetes, high blood pressure and hepatitis C.

He says he was visiting the hospital as often as once a week before his chronic conditions were under control.

"I couldn't give a care about if I was going to give up or not," Manitopyes told reporters at the Legislature on Tuesday afternoon.

Now, thanks to a program through the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region which connects patients to primary health care, Manitopyes goes to regular doctor visits rather than the hospital.

"They showed me that there's people that care. And so, if somebody cared about me as much as they do I figured my life must be worth something then," he said. "So I started going to all my appointments, thanks to them."

Lori Robertson is a registered nurse who has worked with Manitopyes and other patients through the Connecting to Care program in Regina.

Lori Robertson, a registered nurse with the program Connecting to Care, said Manitopyes just needed someone to spend time helping him to help himself. 

"Ken is an absolutely awesome man. He really wanted the help, he asked questions," she said. "He didn't know where to go. He didn't have anybody to spend the time, build a relationship of trust.

"Chronic diseases are complicated and they're scary," Robertson said. "When he was given the tools, he did better."

According to the provincial government, Manitopyes and 100 other patients have accessed the Connecting to Care program since 2015.