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Celebrating the diverse and critical role of Respiratory Therapists

Oct 23, 2020

Home 5 News 5 Celebrating the diverse and critical role of Respiratory Therapists

There is no better time than Respiratory Therapy Week (October 25-31) for the Aberdeen Health Foundation to recognize and celebrate the commitment and dedication of the remarkable team at the Aberdeen Hospital. This year in particular has brought into focus the exceptional work of this diverse and critical group of specialists.  
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, health care professionals and support workers in all areas have faced extreme pressures and demands. The unique skills and abilities of Respiratory Therapists have been invaluable during these uncertain and challenging times. As key members of the frontline team they are responsible for intubation, airway management, and support that can increase home care options for patients.
“Over the years the Aberdeen Health Foundation has provided funding to enhance various respiratory therapy options and initiatives available to our community,” says Executive Director, Michelle Ferris. “It’s good to know that we have a well-equipped and well-prepared team here, and Respiratory Therapy Week is a great opportunity to share that good news with the community.”
Respiratory Therapists have a wide scope of practice that spans from long term management in clinics to critical care in Intensive Care Units. Therapists provide care at the hospital, clinics, and in the community. They can be involved at all stages of life, from newborns with difficulty breathing to patients of any age needing respiratory support due to illness or injury; suffering from chronic heart and lung disease; or requiring long-term respiratory care. 
The Aberdeen Hospital has six Registered Respiratory Therapists who provide round the clock service and expertise to the community 365 days a year. They rush to the hospital in the middle of the night to assist during emergencies, conduct patient assessments, perform medical tests and administer a range of treatments for cardio-respiratory disease. Therapists provide airway and breathing support in the hospital’s Emergency Department, Operating Rooms, Intensive Care Unit, Women and Children’s Health Unit, and other areas, as well as the One Door Centre for Chronic Disease Management. They also educate patients about lung health and the use of breathing medication to help manage home care.
Aberdeen Health Foundation funding has included non-invasive positive pressure ventilation equipment for the Emergency Department. Continuing education for RT staff is also supported. When Nova Scotia Health opened the One Door Centre the Foundation contributed funding for a therapist to become certified as a respiratory educator. The collaborative clinic brings all of the services and health professionals involved in the care of certain chronic conditions under one roof and this was an important addition to the team. Most recently, support from the Sandra Schmirler Foundation enabled our Foundation to fund high flow oxygen therapy equipment for the Aberdeen Hospital Women and Children’s Health Unit. The new devices are designed for high flow nasal therapy specifically for newborns, infants, and children. The advanced technology will increase the number of cases that can be successfully treated in Pictou County and reduce transfers to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax. 
You can learn more about the team and their areas of expertise by following the Aberdeen Health Foundation Facebook page. There will be posts each day during the week describing a different aspect of respiratory therapy care. 
Photo: Diane DeCoste is one of the Aberdeen Hospital’s six Registered Respiratory Therapists. RRTs are often required to provide timely interventions and are responsible for airway management in emergency situations. Simulated patients provide invaluable opportunities for training. Diane is pictured here demonstrating how to intubate a patient. (Image made by Scott Munn)