RT Voice Comes Through Loud and Clear at NHLBI COPD Meeting

 Updated: March 14, 2016

AARC President Selfie COPD Town HallAARC President Frank Salvatore snaps one of his famous selfies with fellow therapists in attendance.

Respiratory therapists were out in force earlier this month as the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) hosted the first-ever town hall meeting aimed at developing a National COPD Action Plan.

AARC Gets Involved

AARC President Frank Salvatore, MBA, RRT, FAARC, and House of Delegates Speaker-elect Keith Siegel, BS, RRT, CPFT, led the charge from the respiratory therapy standpoint, joined by a number of state affiliate members from Virginia, Maryland/DC, and Massachusetts, as well as other therapists from across the country.

“We saw that the NHLBI was holding the meeting in order to shape the goals, initiatives, and efforts that would be outlined in the National COPD Action Plan to combat COPD, and we knew that RTs needed to be involved.” says Salvatore, “So the AARC sent two representatives on behalf of the organization.”

Overall, the meeting was attended by more than 150 professionals who were there to represent a diverse group of disciplines involved in the care and treatment of COPD. Patients and caregivers were on hand as well to provide the very important patient perspective.

The event was live-streamed, and you can watch portions of it here.

RTs Speak up for the Profession and for Patients

Everyone in attendance was assigned to a working group to address issues ranging from empowering patients, families, and communities to recognizing and reducing the burden of COPD, to increasing and sustaining the prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment, and management of the disease. Other overarching objectives included –

  • Increase collaboration and coordination to sustain surveillance and evaluation to improve collection, analysis, dissemination, and reporting of COPD-related public health data.
  • Increase and sustain research to better understand prevention, pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment, and management of COPD.
  • Increase awareness and sustain COPD education among stakeholders, decision makers, individuals with COPD, their families, caregivers, communities, and populations at risk.
  • Integrate recommended policy, educational, and program changes into the legislative, research, public health, and care delivery structures of the nation.

In addition to Salvatore and Siegel, about 20 RTs attended the meeting, and Salvatore says most of the six working groups included a respiratory therapist. The RT voice came through loud and clear; they all spoke up for increased access to RTs for patients but made sure patient advocacy remained at the core of their comments.

“It was an honor to represent the AARC along with President Salvatore at this historic meeting,” says Siegel.  “This country has long needed a comprehensive national COPD policy, and the work that was done in Bethesda represents a giant step towards achieving that goal.”

“All of the RTs worked as patient advocates beyond just the access issue and many good objectives were created by the work groups to begin laying the foundation for the National COPD Action Plan,” emphasizes Salvatore. “The RTs present at this meeting truly embraced the multidisciplinary approach to addressing the creation of this plan.”

Let Your Voice Be Heard

If you’re also passionate about pulmonary disease education and management, the AARC’s COPD Best Practices Community is a great place to network with like-minded peers.

Join the Community