Respiratory Therapists, along with patients and their caregivers, came together for the annual Respiratory Patient Advocacy Summit on Monday, Dec. 3 in Las Vegas, NV. Attendees collaborated to advocate for advancing the quality of care for chronic respiratory patients. The event included guest speakers and an expert panel, as well as the presentation of the National Patient Advocacy Award.
A growing summit
“The Summit has grown every year,” said Sharman Lamka, The FACES Foundation president/co-founder.
She continued to share that the Summit includes different “speakers of people who have been touched by diseases that can empathize and understand what patient advocacy is.”
The Respiratory Patient Advocacy Summit gave RTs the chance to network with patients and provider groups on issues vital to reducing the burden of chronic respiratory disease. Attendees heard inspiring talks by patients and their caregivers and listened in to a roundtable discussion on the key issues facing patients and families.
When asked what is one of the major takeaways for patients from the Summit, Lamka said, “The fact that they’re not alone.”
She continued, “They hear stories from other people. They hear stories that in order to be an advocate, for yourself or as a family member, you’ve got to be a bulldog. You need to just keep moving forward. You may get frustrated, but you need to just keep doing it. You see people that have done miraculous things and they’re not really different from you or me.”
Outstanding patient care
Lamka explained that the National Respiratory Patient Advocacy Award grew from the success of the Summit.
RTs advocate for their patients every day at work, but many go the extra mile as well by taking that advocacy well beyond the bedside. Two of them received special recognition during the Summit. Now in its second year, the second National Respiratory Patient Advocacy Award, sponsored by the AARC and The FACES Foundation, went to Tonya Loftin, RRT, director of population health outcomes for Eventa, LLC. Kurt Riek, RRT, a respiratory clinical specialist with Michigan Medicine-CS Mott Children’s Hospital, was named a finalist.
Lamka believes that the respiratory therapist is sometimes an “unsung hero and this [award] is helping patients know how important they are in integrated care.”
“It takes a team — the respiratory therapist, the medical team, and the patient and family member,” Lamka said. “All together you are supporting better lung health.”