Respiratory Care Week October 25-31, 2020
Since 1982, when the American Association for Respiratory Care along with support from President Ronald Reagan declared the last week in October as National Respiratory Care Week, people around the country have taken this time every year to celebrate Respiratory Therapists (RTs) and draw attention to the importance of lung health. This year Respiratory Care Week will be celebrated October 25-31. October is typically a good time to think about respiratory health because of the start of flu season, but in 2020 respiratory health is of particular importance because of COVID-19. Respiratory Therapists and other health professionals around the world have been working tirelessly all year to support the lung health of those affected by the pandemic, putting themselves on the front lines of the fight against the virus.
Respiratory Therapy is a specialized health care field where practitioners are trained in pulmonary medicine in order to work therapeutically with people suffering from pulmonary disease. But what exactly do Respiratory Therapists do? They can be found in a wide variety of medical settings, and can serve in many different roles.
In a hospital setting, Respiratory Therapists may diagnose and treat patients with lung and heart problems, as well as maintain ventilation machines in the ICU. They work closely with physicians in suggesting and implementing care plans that treat critically ill patients. The care they provide in this setting can range from periodic aerosolized medication administration, to artificial airway management in the ICU. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of RTs in the ICU has been critically important. Pulmonary rehabilitation may be initiated as a treatment as a source for continuity of improvement after a hospital stay or as a therapeutic way to increase quality of life. Pulmonary rehabilitation serves to educate patients and families and improve the overall quality of life through teaching and coaching, and can involve many different medical professionals in addition to the Respiratory Therapist.
Education is an important part of almost every Respiratory Therapist's job. Patient education is of utmost importance. An RT may help a patient discuss treatment options and disease-state management, as well as providing treatment plans. Some RTs also work in public educational settings to help teachers and coaches recognize respiratory medical situations.
Our Respiratory Therapists at Apple HMS function in a home-healthcare setting. They provide education and support for our patients who use home ventilators, humidification devices, PAP systems, and home oxygen. Educating patients and their families on the use and maintenance of these intricate machines is a key aspect of their job. Because of the importance of these devices for our respiratory patients, our RTs provide 24/7 support by rotating on-call shifts in their region. If a patient has a problem with their ventilator in the middle of the night, our RTs make sure it doesn't turn into an emergency, even if the solution is just a temporary fix until a new part can be delivered the next day. Their support helps to keep patients in their own home in a safe setting away from the hospital.
According to datausa, over 111,000 individuals practice respiratory care in the U.S. today. In 2020 respiratory health has become headline news, and the job an RT performs has become more important than ever before. So take some time during Respiratory Care Week to show appreciation and thank a Respiratory Therapist - this is their year!