Let me start by saying Happy Respiratory Therapy Week to all of my fellow RTs! You are some of the smartest and hardest working people running around the hospital! Thank you for all you do!
So, if you're asking yourself "what the heck is a respiratory therapist?" consider yourself lucky that you have never needed us. If you or a loved one has spent any time in the hospital you have, no doubt, seen us running around. (Yes, we do run a lot!)
You may have seen us in Labor and Delivery at your high risk birth. We were the one's who kept mom breathing comfortably and got that new baby breathing again. We were also in the NICU managing that beautiful baby's airway and ventilator. We were giving mom and dad words of affirmation and letting them know that although this is scary, it will be ok.
We are in the PICU working with the doctors and nurses to keep your child comfortable, breathing and healing. We are holding the little ones in the few free minutes that we have because everyone needs a little love. We are using every resource that we can think of to make sure this kiddo goes home. We are celebrating those that have recovered and crying for those who didn't. It's impossible not to bring this home. In the Pediatric Unit, we are finding fun and inventive ways to make the kids feel less like this is therapy and more like it's a game.
We are there after surgery to wean you off of your ventilator and finally take out that awful breathing tube. We are teaching you breathing exercises, how to use your incentive spirometer, and providing breathing treatments to keep you breathing comfortably. We are teaching you to "hug your pillow" so you can cough with comfort.
If you are in critical care, we are doing our best to keep you breathing comfortably. If you need respiratory support, we will intubate you (put that tube in your throat) and manage and protect your airway. We are managing your ventilator to make it as therapeutic and comfortable as possible. We know that ventilator up and down and back and forth. We know every alarm and exactly what to do to fix the problem. We are drawing arterial blood gases to see how the ventilator is working. When you are are getting better, we will wean you off of the vent and finally remove that tube. Although, this sounds like a lot, and it is, we always try to take the time to hold your hand, give you a smile and provide emotional support.
If the time eventually comes that there is no hope for recovery and your family has made the decision to withdraw care, we are there. We will make the patient comfortable and finally withdraw the vent. We are there to provide comfort and support to the family. After withdrawing care, you would typically find me in the office having a little cry.
We are a part of the Rapid Response team to provide emergent and aggressive care before things take a turn for the worse. We are part of the Code Team, where we can be found intubating and ventilating our patient and doing chest compressions.
Outside of the hospital, we can be found in the Pulmonary Function Lab performing tests on your breathing. We work in Pulmonary Rehab to help you maintain an active and healthy life despite your pulmonary problems. We educate you about your CPAP machine so you can breath all night long.
Respiratory therapists are truly superheros! Thank you all for doing all that you do!