In the News

Pride in Profession Shines During RC Week 2011

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November 14, 2011

The week of October 23–29 was filled with activities aimed at turning the spotlight on respiratory therapists across the nation and around the world. We asked you to share your events with all of us, and here are some excerpts from the reports you sent in—

Pennsylvania Society for Respiratory Care


On Tuesday, October 25, respiratory therapists and students gathered in Harrisburg for a legislative day at the Capitol. The day began at the office of The Winter Group, where therapists and students from across the state gathered for breakfast and a welcome message from Tony Ruppert, RRT, CPFT, PSRC Capital District Director. Lobbyists Mark Singel and Peg Callahan followed Tony’s welcome with some encouraging words to the group about the goals for the day—to let legislators know who RTs are and how they add value to health care; to explain the PSRC’s support for “cleaning up” the exemptions in last year’s Clean Indoor Air Act, HB 1254, which would prohibit the use of access cards for tobacco purchases; and to advocate for Tobacco Settlement Fund dollars to continue to be allocated for their intended use—cessation and prevention.

From there the therapists in attendance split into three teams led by PSRC leaders Tony Ruppert, Brad Leidich, MSEd, RRT, FAARC, and John Hughes, MEd, RRT, FAARC, along with representatives from The Winter Group. Then they set off to meet with 19 representatives, senators, and their staff members to share the value of respiratory therapists in the Commonwealth.

We ended the day with a wrap up session back at The Winter Group. All in all, it was a successful day. We effectively brought our message to a number of legislators, presenting a united front at the Capitol on a busy session day and raising awareness of the PSRC as the association representing respiratory therapists and the patients, families, and communities we serve.—Garry W. Kauffman, MPA, FACHE, RRT, FAARC

Spartanburg Community College, Spartanburg, SC

Spartanburg CC

We hosted our first ever Vent 5K. Our first and second year classes dressed up a ventilator and relayed it around campus. At the same time as the relay was occurring, other students from both classes were canvassing the campus for the DRIVE4COPD campaign. In all, 300 screeners were handed out. The senior class won the relay.—Lisa Conry, MA, RRT

Saint Francis Health System, Tulsa, OK

Our department celebrated with games, prizes, awards, and awesome food from various local restaurants. Our manager really wanted us, as a team, to be recognized during our time of celebration. Her support was the greatest. Several of our physicians participated along with some vendors. We are always there for one another in the workplace, but during RC Week we get to spend a little more time celebrating each other as colleagues. This event really pulls us together as a team.—Eddie Munana, RRT

Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC

Medical University of SC

We had a week FULL of fun, education, and appreciation! Our mayor proclaimed RC Week, and we created a Facebook page for our department. We had a BBQ/family picnic, challenged another RT department to play kickball, and had an appreciation breakfast, chair massages, chili cook-off competition, ice cream social, pizza parties, and a Halloween/Finale Party. On Lung Health Day we had booths in our three hospitals with a Hot Air Contest to promote lung health and our profession. We hosted a respiratory conference for RTs throughout the state as well—and had the most participants and raised $3K for the American Lung Association walk/run!—Amanda McGarrigle, RRT-NPS, RPFT

University of California San Diego Medical Center, San Diego, CA


Keeping staff well fed during RC week was a priority at UCSD, as were games and contests ranging from RC Jeopardy to ventilator troubleshooting skills. Displays featuring RC equipment, educational posters, and health screening information were placed in the cafeteria at both of our hospitals. Staff were also honored with a variety of awards ranging from “Best SBAR Report” to the “Outstanding RCP of the Year.” In addition, every staff member was provided with a special long-sleeve t-shirt or sweatshirt featuring a special logo selected by staff that they can wear proudly.—Richard Ford, RRT, FAARC

Angelina College School of Respiratory Care, Lufkin, TX

Angelina College

As is often the case with respiratory care, we celebrated around food. The students and instructors had a cookout on the campus where we had hamburgers, hotdogs, and homemade ice cream. To make the event education-oriented, the students used their newly learned skills on liquid filled cylinders to calculate how much propane was used cooking the meal, then calculated how many meals could be completed on a single bottle of gas. Their calculation was 31 meals on a single tank.—David Henson, BS, RRT-NPS, RPFT

Prince Sultan Military College of Health Sciences, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Prince Sultan

The respiratory care team and students at Prince Sultan College went to a local high school to introduce the RC profession. We held workshops on first aid and brought manikins to give the students the chance to experience some “hands-on” care. The next day we invited them to visit the college and hospital, where they participated in some activities and met with professionals. From there, we had them do spirometry and participate in an anti-smoking session. Gifts proclaiming “Respiratory Care Week” were given to all participants!—Mohammed AlAhmari, RRT

Phelps County Regional Medical Center, Rolla, MO

Phelps County Regional

We adopted our hospital for the DRIVE4COPD Adopt-a-Company campaign and held a screening event for hospital employees during Respiratory Care Week. Bonnie Gehlert, RRT, and Lori Snedigar, RRT, coordinated the event and were able to screen over 200 people during the day-long event. They also offered peak flow and pulse oximetry testing as well as smoking cessation counseling. Rolla recently passed an ordinance to ban smoking in all workplaces within the city limits and members of the RT department were actively involved in that effort.—Cheryl Hoerr, RRT, CPFT, FAARC

Charles Cole Hospital, Coudersport, PA

Charles Cole

Respiratory Care Week allowed us to highlight our profession internally to our fellow CCMH teammates and externally through community outreach events and our open house opportunity for the community as well. Offering our CCMH team members a chance to meet the cardiopulmonary team under some fun circumstances was a great opportunity to network and show our appreciation.

Monday saw team members partake in a day-long clinical skills day and endure various clinical specialists for in-servicing and product review. All week long during the lunch period we had various events, Chinese auctions, and games for an opportunity to win a free lunch for all employees. Our fundraising initiative helped us work towards purchasing a new portable lung function screening device that we can take with us to various health fairs and community wellness events that we enjoy supporting.

The week was a great team building endeavor that culminated with our Friday night staff Halloween party, which everyone at CCMH is invited to. Sincere thanks to all the members of the department in readying for “Our Week.” They are all great RT ambassadors.—Scott Ferguson, RRT

Seattle Central Community College, Seattle, WA

Seattle Central

Our Respiratory Care Club engaged our campus community during RC Week. We spoke about respiratory care as a profession and the importance of smoking cessation.—Scott Mahoney, BA, RRT

Mayo Clinic in Arizona, Phoenix, AZ

What a busy week! Education, food, competition, and prizes all week long. What therapist doesn’t like food, and there was plenty, from breakfast to cake to a chili cook off. Several members of our medical staff participated in the week’s activities, including Dr. Richard Helmers, our past medical director, who presented an update on recent topics from the pulmonary literature. Staff therapists were challenged to answer past Sputum Bowl questions each day and were awarded prizes for their efforts.

One of the fun highlights of the week was a presentation by our very own “extreme couponing” expert, who gave all of us tips to help stretch a dollar. The week also included some goodbyes to Bradley Banks, RRT, who was promoted from RC manager to operations manager in clinical research, and Dr. Helmers, who will be leaving to work at the University of Illinois.—Mary Jane Johnson, RRT, FACHE

Delray Medical Center, Delray, FL

Delray Medical

We kicked off the week with a Volleyball Contest against another hospital. Many of us work as per diems in each other’s hospitals and we even went to school together! We had all our families join in the fun. We also had CEU presentations and our RT eatery at the hospital. Many local reps and Palm Beach State RT students participated, with daily jam-packed education and goodies. We capped off our week of celebrations by going bowling over the weekend. I LOVE MY TEAM and RTs in general. We are all a gift to each other!—Brenda Stevens, MM, RRT

Ranken Jordan—A Pediatric Specialty Hospital, St. Louis, MO

Ranken Jordan

One of our hospital board members came out with the Callmakers & Collectors Association of America to teach our pediatric patients how to make duck calls. Patients were able to do a little fun respiratory therapy and make a lot of noise!

Here’s a short video of the event that was aired on our local Fox news.—Tyler Mathews

Mercy Hospital-St. Louis/University of Missouri, Columbia, MO

Mercy St Louis

Senior MU students in St. Louis, along with their clinical instructor, adopted Mercy Hospital-St. Louis for a DRIVE4COPD booth. Pictured are Varsha Gupta, Natalie Fletcher, and Meredith Rathert, class of 2012 (sitting); Ann Rolfes, BS, RRT, and Karen McAllister, BHS, RRT, (standing) are MU clinical instructors at Mercy Hospital-St. Louis.—Shawna Strickland, PhD, RRT-NPS, AE-C

Meriter Hospital, Madison, WI

Meriter Hospital

One of our respiratory therapists, Andrew, and RT students, Julie, offered an educational display to educate patients, visitors, and employees about lung disease and spirometry. Excellent job team!—Bill Pupanek, RRT

Carle Hospital, Urbana, IL

Carle Hospital

We had food all week and played some games. The highlight for everyone was ventilating pig lungs. We placed one set on the JET and the other on APRV. Staff throughout the hospital came to check out what we do, and then we ate BBQ pork the next day!—Stephanie Lynn Groth, RRT-NPS

Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY


Our department offered five mornings of inservice educational programs (4 CEUs), each one accompanied by breakfast. Lunch was served on two days. On Thursday we highlighted the week-long festivities by staffing an informational display table in the lobby of our medical center. Educational materials, two ventilators, an intubation mannequin, sleep diagnostics, promotion of the profession, and a video that displayed our therapists in action was continually looped.

The video was underscored by the popular singer Mario performing “How Can I Breathe?” We alternated that video with the AARC’s “Life & Breath” video. The department staff pooled their resources and purchased a 32” Sony flat screen television to show the videos to their best advantage. All department staff were given a Respiratory Care Week t-shirt, a pen (with the Brookdale logo), and a “thanks for making a difference” key ring.—Leon C. Lebowitz, BA, RRT

Somerset Community College/St. Joseph’s Hospital, London, KY

Somerset CC

Students in the advanced level respiratory therapist program completed DRIVE4COPD screenings and passed out information on 1-800-QUIT-NOW to customers in the London Walmart. In addition, they performed 55 spirometry screenings! Our thanks to St. Joe’s London for letting us use their spirometry equipment!—Cindy Fouts, BS, RRT

Memorial Hermann Northeast, Humble, TX

Memorial Hermann

We organized a dinner and hosted a party with games, a slideshow of the past year’s pictures, and special giveaways, including three $50 gift cards donated by our NICU physician, Dr. Munoz. This is a picture of the winners of a relay to setup a vent and dress in PPE—Cheryl Foster and Kenneth Arevalo from our night shift did it in 1 minute and 22 seconds! Our hospitalist group and pulmonary doctors also donated money to make our week wonderful!—Maria I. Valencia, RRT

The Medical Center of Aurora, Aurora, CO


We moved into a brand new department and wanted to show off our new home to the rest of the hospital. We also had poster boards for educating our colleagues about respiratory care and served our “lung” cake for dessert. Our vice president of human resources participated in our “Walk a Mile with Respiratory Therapy” event as well. It was a huge success!—Ron Cothran, BS, RRT, CPFT

Drayton Valley Hospital & Care Centre, Drayton Valley, Alberta, Canada

Drayton Valley

I am a one man show here in Drayton Valley, being the community and the hospital therapist. With no budget and limited resources I put together a display using photos, brochures, recycled devices, and some on-hand equipment. The display was in the south entrance of Drayton Valley Hospital for the week, with an open house for the public on Wednesday. During the open house I provided spirometry and oximetry for demonstration purposes only and spent time with individuals answering their specific health questions. The local radio station and newspaper provided some PR for the event, and our mayor issued an official proclamation declaring the week in our town. Time-consuming yes, but absolutely worthwhile!—Ron McFadyen, RRT, CRE

Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital HEB, Hurst, Euless, Bedford, TX

Harris Methodist

Here at Texas Health HEB Hospital we celebrated all week with food and fun, and capped off the week with a contest to see which shift could decorate the best ventilator. The nightshift won with the Witch Vent. Can anyone guess what ventilator we used ?—Gloria Swan, CRT

Advocate Christ Medical Center, Oak Lawn, IL

Advocate Christ

One of things we did during Respiratory Care Week was to set up a display table in the cafeteria featuring our Respironics V60 BiPAP and the mask options.—Sharon McKinney, RRT

Galion Community College, Galion, OH

We put up pictures and bios of each therapist in the department on a bulletin board by the cafeteria.—Jennifer Patrick, RRT

Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA

Georgia State

Students and faculty held a DRIVE4COPD event during the annual Health Benefits Fair at Georgia State University. The students conducted pulmonary function testing and also had attendees fill out DRIVE4COPD screeners. Over 200 screeners were completed. Students, faculty, and staff also celebrated with a pizza party. A raffle was held for RC materials and faculty textbooks, followed by a trivia contest between the junior, senior, and graduate students.—Robert Harwood, MSA, RRT-NPS

University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX

UTMB Galveston

On Tuesday, two senior students in the Respiratory Therapy Student Association set up an info booth in the cafeteria at John Sealy Hospital to spread the word about Respiratory Care Week. They had several visitors come by and ask about the program and get their pulse ox readings.—Melissa Joy Quinta, UTMB RC student

Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center, Bronx, NY

Bronx Lebanon

The respiratory therapy staff set up a table in the main hospital lobby and educated visitors and staff about the respiratory care profession. In addition, we demonstrated the proper use of inhalers and performed spirometry testing for adult and pediatric visitors. We had an asthma wheel that visitors and staff could spin as well. If they got the question about asthma correct, then a prize was given out. Staff also attended education lectures by pulmonary attending physicians, and best of all, the RT staff enjoyed a catered breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day for the entire week. Everyone had a BLAST!—Anatoly Veksler, MPA, RRT-NPS

Brooke Army Medical Center, Ft. Sam Houston, TX

Brooke Army

Students and instructors set up an RT equipment display as a part of their celebrations.—Harry Román, MA, RRT

Saint Agnes Medical Center, Fresno, CA

Saint Agnes

We had the traditional food-a-thon, with breakfast goodies, cookies, Italian dinners, and a pot luck. Gift baskets were awarded for correct crossword puzzles, guessing games, and other fun activities. We hosted an open house and everyone in the hospital was invited to stop by the department for music and snacks. In our conference room, they watched a scrolling PowerPoint showing slides of our staff and all of the wonderful things they do for our patients. Finally, we had a great inservice class on “Excellence in Respiratory Care/Critical Thinking” that was interactive and provided us with some new tools to move our professional practice to the next level!—Lesley A. Smith, RRT-NPS, RPFT

Summit Medical Center, Nashville, TN

Summit Medical

RTs have always been superheroes to me, so I made it the theme of our banner for the week.—Davy Huff


Draeger and ICON teamed up to provide customers with complimentary educational webinars each day. Several sessions were hosted to provide for multiple shifts. Topics surrounding the latest in APRV and lung recruitment were explored.—Ed Coombs, RRT

CHI Institute at Franklin Mills Campus, Philadelphia, PA

We conducted PFT screens with a faculty member, Anthony Cardinale, BS, RRT, and student volunteers at one of our clinical affiliates. We also conducted a student-organized fundraiser with the proceeds targeted for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Association headquartered in Chicago, IL.—Anthony Filippelli, MEd, RRT

Charleston Area Medical Center, Charleston, WV


Our activities included inservice lunches, a picnic, wiffleball games played against students from local RT schools, Olympic games, a Hallowheeze contest to decorate equipment, an educational display for the public, and a popcorn giveaway for hospital staff. We all had lots of fun!—Len Picha, RRT

Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Mesa, AZ

Phoenix Children’s

We had a pot luck for our respiratory department on Wednesday. I made two lung cakes, one for the day shift and one for the night shift. I used red velvet cake, cream cheese frosting, fruit, marshmallow fondant, and decoration techniques to bring to life a healthy set of lungs! It was fun to do and nice to eat!—Rachel Vaughn, RRT

Sauk Prairie Memorial Hospital & Clinics, Prairie du Sac, WI

Sauk Prairie

RTs here had their communications department send out a press release noting the presence of Mary Roth, RRT, CPFT, at the signing of an official proclamation on Oct. 5 declaring November COPD Awareness Month in Wisconsin. Roth joined Governor Scott Walker and RT colleagues William Pupanek, BA, RRT, from Meriter Hospital, and Jennifer Horkan, CRT, from Reedsburg Area Medical Center, at the event.

Saint Agnes Medical Center, Fresno, CA

Saint Agnes

We had the traditional food-a-thon, with breakfast goodies, cookies, Italian dinners, and a pot luck. Gift baskets were awarded for correct crossword puzzles, guessing games, and other fun activities. We hosted an open house and everyone in the hospital was invited to stop by the department for music and snacks. In our conference room, they watched a scrolling PowerPoint showing slides of our staff and all of the wonderful things they do for our patients. Finally, we had a great inservice class on “Excellence in Respiratory Care/Critical Thinking” that was interactive and provided us with some new tools to move our professional practice to the next level!—Lesley A. Smith, RRT-NPS, RPFT

Rhode Island Hospital/Hasbro Children’s, Providence, RI

Rhode Island Hospital

I would like to recognize a fellow respiratory therapist who is making a difference within our department. Emily Fanning, CRT, began as one of my outstanding clinical students and has transitioned into a wonderful respiratory therapist. She has an exciting passion along with a dedication to her profession. She motivated the staff to have their pictures on a Respiratory Tree in the cafeteria during Respiratory Care Week. She feels the department should be recognized for all their professionalism throughout the hospital. The Respiratory Tree symbolizes a family of unity, working and learning together to provide quality patient care. Although she is fairly new to the profession, she motivates everyone to get involved and sets high expectations within the department. Emily was recognized by her fellow staff and supervisor, who named her “Miss Respiratory Care” for RC Week.—Angela Gasparri, RRT-NPS, CPFT, AE-C


Two Poems to End the Week

Last but certainly not least, we received two great poems that sum up what it means to be an RT.

Paul Treffeisen, BS, RRT, from Greenville Memorial University Medical Center in Greenville, SC, shared this poem written by Heather K. Nalley, RRT—

The Respiratory Therapist
by Heather K. Nalley, RRT

The respiratory therapist is an animated soul…
Who diligently works for you, easy breathing is the goal.

If you are short of breath or starting to wheeze…
Just give us a call and say, “I need a treatment, please.”

If you’re unable to breathe, and start to turn blue…
Your therapist will come running…to breathe for you.

We will put a tube in your airway and set up a vent,
And take care of you for hopefully a short ICU stint.

When you return to a floor bed, we will still be there…
To administer your treatments and continue your care.

If there’s trouble again, there is no magic wand…
But we will hurry to you and Rapidly Respond.

No trouble you say, I’m better—so Bye!
We will cheerfully teach you to use your MDI.

So feel better, go home and take care of yourself.
Good health’s more important than riches and wealth.

In pulmonary rehab you’ll get back to your best.
We’ll counsel you on smoking and do a breathing test.

Snoring is a problem—sleep all the day.
An overnight sleep study will show us the way.

In closing remember, stay in your prime…
and take everyday…One Breath At A Time.

Esther Szmutni, CRT, shared one of her own—

Hug an RT!

By Esther Szmutni, CRT

I know you often wonder what does a Respiratory Therapist does?
We respond to every Code Blue, Trauma, and every Rapid Response.
We work in EVERY area of the Hospital—ER, ICU, NICU, PICU, Floors, Surgical Heart and you probably thought we were your nurse.
We work side by side with Nurses and Physicians.
We take care of adults, your kids, and your premature babies.
We intubate you.
We extubate you.
We place you on mechanical ventilators.
We clean your airways orally, tracheally, nasally.
We exercise your lungs and keep them clean with Bronchial Hygiene Therapy.
We draw your arterial blood and we analyze it.
We breathe for you when you can’t do it on your own.
We monitor your sleep.
We monitor your pulmonary function.
We deliver breathing medication when your airways are closing on you.
We deliver mixed gases to help oxygenate you when your body is too tired.
We hold your hand when you’re scared and share comforting words and many times we are the last ones to leave your room.
We educate you on diseases such as obstructive sleep apnea, COPD, Asthma.
The list goes on…We are a 365/24/7 operation and we are a critical part of the medical team.
Now you understand what we do!
It’s Respiratory Care Week. Go hug an RT!