By Diane Forrest, RN
When I started nursing classes, they began a new pilot class for respiratory therapy that same year. We learned to work together then, as we would be working together in the future. I have to tell you these people are amazing. These people do so much more than just hang oxygen around your neck and give out inhalers. In the hospital they take care of newborns that are sick, they set up oxygen tents, perform breathing treatments and monitor the oxygen levels in the blood.
They treat young children with pneumonia, asthma, cystic fibrosis and SARS which is Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which is contagious and can lead to death.
They also apply a Ventilator to the extremely sick, and monitor the machine and its effectiveness. They are a part of the code team and are one of the first to arrive to start life saving measures.
They also participate in Sleep Disorder studies as well as perform suctioning techniques and CPT (chest physical therapy). That involves cupping your hand and clapping against the lungs to break up secretions in cystic fibrosis patients.
The lungs are essential for breathing, and breathing is necessary for life. When there is a problem breathing, the Respiratory Therapist steps in, performs the treatments and care necessary to allow adequate breathing.
If you have ever been in a position to require their services, you know how invaluable they are. So this week, Respiratory Care Week, remember to show your appreciation to those you know who work in this field, and what an important position they have in the area of saving lives.