As part of National COPD Awareness Month, the AARC will be highlighting the critical role that respiratory therapists provide to patients with COPD. Together, we can empower people with COPD, their families, and caregivers to reduce the burden of the disease. Kicking off the month is a special video message from Dr. James P. Kiley, Ph.D., director of the division of lung diseases at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). In his message to AARC members, Kiley expresses the importance of COPD education, the national action plan and the vital role respiratory therapists play in this process.
“We are grateful for our strong partnership with the NHLBI, which has provided the resources to benefit our patients and the respiratory care profession,” said Thomas Kallstrom, RRT, MBA, FAARC, AARC Executive Director/CEO. “We look forward to implementing the steps it will take to activate the COPD National Action Plan locally and nationally. We are unified in this effort and I am confident that the respiratory care community will take up this charge, working within their healthcare delivery systems to improve COPD management of our patients”
According to the NHLBI, it is estimated that 16 million Americans currently have been diagnosed with COPD, while there are also millions more likely to have COPD and have not been diagnosed. Early diagnosis, guideline-based treatment and management, and access to quality preventative and chronic services are keys to improving the quality of life to people with COPD.
“2017’s COPD National Action Plan is an unprecedented initiative spearheaded by the NHLBI that will coordinate with many different groups and organizations to make a real difference in the lives of those who suffer from COPD,” Kiley said, in his video message. “Respiratory therapists and the AARC are critical for this initiative, for the vital roles you play in the diagnosis, treatment and management of COPD.”
Areas of the National COPD Action Plan that are opportunistic for respiratory therapists to lead the plan’s initiatives include:
- Advocate for the availability of Pulmonary Rehabilitation programs, the delivery of best practices within these programs and further investigative research.
- Become leaders in COPD disease management across all settings of the continuum.
- Conduct research on areas that improve the care and services of patients in rural areas.
- Identify and implement COPD Quality Measures that impact patients’ lives as their advocate.