Oct. 4–7, 2017

Indianapolis, IN

Congress Program Sections

Thursday Gazette

Attendees rock out at last night’s Welcome Party

Welcome Party revelers.

The first day of any AARC Congress is a little overwhelming, with all the information placed before attendees in the form of lectures, symposia, and the Exhibit Hall.

Congress-goers had the chance to kick back and relax at the Welcome Party that took place yesterday evening. With complimentary drinks and snacks, plus great music by Living Proof, a great time was had by all.

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President Walsh recaps 2017 activities, looks forward to 2018

AARC President Brain Walsh.

According to AARC President Brian Walsh, PhD, RRT-NPS, FAARC, 2017 has been a banner year for the Association. In his address to the Annual Business Meeting this morning, he covered some of the key accomplishments that have taken place since he took office and provided some hints at what is to come in 2018.

“We have a wonderful and bright future,” he told his audience, emphasizing that “there is nothing our profession can’t do if we work together to achieve it.” The key, says Dr. Walsh, is to be proactive on all fronts. “If we don’t change radically and rapidly, there is a real possibility our profession will regress rather than progress. The status quo is not acceptable.”

President Walsh’s 2018 goals are —


  1. Lead and advance the safety of respiratory care including mechanical ventilation.
  2. Maintain and expand relevant communication and alliances with key allies and organizations that advocate for safety and competency.


  1. Advance the educational requirements to the baccalaureate degree level.
  2. Encourage the development of programs, accreditation, and credentialing of the Advanced Practice Respiratory Therapist (APRT).


  1. Continue to advance our international respiratory community presence.
  2. Expand efforts to obtain research funding and develop the next generation of researchers.

Newly elected leaders of the Association were installed during the Business Meeting as well. Karen Schell DHSc BSRC RRT-NPS RRT-SDS was installed as president-elect, and Lisa Trujillo DHSc RRT and Tim Op’t Holt EdD RRT FAARC as directors-at-large.

Olivia Jenkins BHS RRT-NPS was elected to serve as the Transport Section’s chair-elect.

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RTs figure prominently in three telehealth bills

Congress-goers will find a number of lectures on the Program this week dealing with telehealth and its implications for respiratory care. Why? Telehealth is the future of health care, and RTs are poised to play a big role in its implementation.

Indeed, a key mission of the AARC’s Advocacy Day on the Hill in April this year was to ask Congressional leaders to ensure respiratory therapists were included in any telehealth legislation introduced in the 115th Congress.

We are proud to announce that three bills now include respiratory therapists as telehealth professionals and respiratory care as a telehealth service. Two of the bills also include remote patient monitoring for individuals with chronic health conditions, including COPD. The 3 bills are:

HR 2550 — Medicare Telehealth Parity Act
HR 2291 — Helping Expand Access to Rural Telemedicine (HEART) Act
HR 766 — Telehealth for Individuals Residing in Public Housing

We held a Summer Virtual Lobby Week July 10-14 asking House Members to sign-on to these bills as co-sponsors. Overall, close to 4000 messages were sent to the House. AARC’s lobbyists continue to meet with influential Senators to seek introduction for companion legislation.

Throughout the remainder of the year, we will be following up with key leaders who expressed an interest in RTs and telehealth during our April Advocacy Day and securing as many co-sponsors as possible. Last year the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act had 67 co-sponsors, more than any other telehealth bill, and we hope to beat that number in 2017. We have our work cut out for us and you can help. Go to AARC’s Capitol Connection and send in a message asking for co-sponsorship. It’s never too late!

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President’s report

By Brian Walsh, PhD, RRT-NPS, FAARC

AARC President Brian Walsh.

It’s been a year since my installation as your president. Wow, how the time has flown. I have been busier than I ever thought imaginable working with the AARC Executive Office, Board of Directors, and House of Delegates, promoting, advocating, and attempting to advance the profession on your behalf. While not always fun, it’s been a pleasure serving alongside such wonderful champions for the profession and visiting with many of you on your home turf.

When I took over from President Salvatore, you could feel the momentum gained during his tenure. With excitement at the opportunities ahead and terror of the unknown, I felt like we, as a profession, had come to a fork in the road. We could either turn left and change radically and rapidly to continue to progress as a wonderful and needed profession serving millions of patients with cardiopulmonary disease for many generations to come; or we could turn right and return to our comfort zone of “business as usual” and regress rather than progress.

Bound and determine to meet your expectations and my own, I chose to focus on three areas our practice must positively influence or face irrelevance. Therefore, my goals for the last year have centered around quality, safety, and value. I truly believe we are on the cusp of becoming a great profession of the likes no one has seen before. The following is a review of the past year and highlights from each domain.


  1. In an effort to improve the quality of the care we provide we must continually expand the knowledge base of our profession. I don’t know about you, but many of the patients I serve have become increasingly complex over the years. In November of 2015 the AARC updated its position statement on Respiratory Therapist Education to make the bold statement that, “Training and education for entry-to-practice as a respiratory therapist should be provided within programs awarding a bachelor’s or master’s degree in respiratory care.” Since issuing this position statement the AARC has been working to make this a reality through multiple venues.
    1. CoARC has assisted us in this endeavor by changing one of their standards (1.01), which will go into effect next year, limiting new RT programs to baccalaureate or graduate degree granting programs. The AARC wholeheartedly supported this change.
    2. Five new baccalaureate or higher programs have come online since 2015 and approximately 3 more are in various stages of getting to the baccalaureate level. However, this is far too slow for us to get to the baccalaureate-entry-to-practice we desire. We have our work cut out for us.
    3. The AARC BOD has formed a collaborative that will focus on baccalaureate-entry-to-practice barriers and develop possible solutions.
    4. This summer we conducted a human resource survey to determine our progress on meeting our goal of having 80% of the workforce either have a baccalaureate or higher degree, or be working toward a baccalaureate degree, by 2020. Hopefully we will be sharing those results with you soon.
  2. This year we kicked off the Apex Recognition Program that recognizes respiratory care departments in acute care hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home medical equipment companies. This program not only recognizes significant contributions of the respiratory therapist and highlights best practices, but it also helps us recognize respiratory therapy departments that are furthering our mission and vision to make a difference in the lives of the patients we serve.


  1. Respiratory therapists provide the safest respiratory care. However, medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. As responsible citizens of the health care community, we must take notice and evaluate our practice for opportunities to continue to provide the safest care around, and we have many opportunities to do just that.
    1. We are leading and advancing mechanical ventilation safety by partnering with others like the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation and the Patient Safety Movement. We have chronicled our ventures down this path in AARC Times.
  2. We are improving access to respiratory therapists by lobbying for telehealth legislation. This would grant access not only to our services through alternative means such as telehealth, but would allow us to ensure safe patient care through education and assessment. Many of you helped us during our virtual lobby weeks and I thank you. We couldn’t do it without you.


  1. By promoting safety and high quality respiratory care services, we demonstrate our value from the beginning, but we need to do more. We must demonstrate the efficiency and effectiveness of respiratory care when provided by the respiratory therapist. In an effort to support research the BOD developed the Vision Grant. The primary purpose of the AARC Vision Grant is to provide funding to members conducting research initiatives that document the clinical and economic impact of the respiratory therapist specifically related to the AARC mission to secure the highest quality care for all patients who suffer from cardiopulmonary disease.
  2. We continue to promote respiratory therapists nationally and internationally.
    1. During this year’s PACT meeting in Washington DC, I’m proud to report that I did not have to describe what a respiratory therapist is a single time. This took years of hard work and lobbying by all of you.
    2. The film “COPD: Highly Illogical — A Tribute to Leonard Nimoy” was released this past year. The AARC was a consultant to the filmmakers, and the film highlights the services provided by respiratory therapists in the management of COPD.
    3. Internationally we are making strides as well. Our profession is growing tremendously. This past year two RT programs were started in Africa, to mention a few. We are seeing growth in China as well. I was able to attend and share experiences at conferences hosted by the Canadian Society for Respiratory Therapy and Colombian Society for Respiratory Therapy, and following the Congress I will attend the CONGRESO SOLACUR CUSCO PERU.

It’s been a really fun and busy year and those are just some highlights of our many successes. I certainly couldn’t have done this without your help and the help and leadership of Past President Salvatore and Tom Kallstrom and the entire staff of the Executive Office, who serve you tirelessly. I look forward to keeping and gaining momentum as I head into my second year. Please contact me at brian.walsh@aarc.org with any suggestions you might have about our trajectory. I’m always willing to listen.

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Secretary-treasurer’s report


Karen Schell.

Your professional organization is in good fiscal shape; the AARC continues to be served by a fiscally responsible Executive Office and Board of Directors. Thank you to the BOD and AARC Executive Office for their continued support.

Some of the 2017 highlights are:

Membership: Our number of members is consistent with plan. The AARC revenue base continues to provide the programs, services, and benefits that are important to you. This includes providing high quality educational programs and working with all levels of government to assure that you are appropriately recognized for what you do. The AARC BOD and Membership Committee continue to work at growing our membership.

Revenues: Other revenues are slightly above plan; we thank you for your continued support via educational courses, product offerings, and attendance at meetings such as the International Respiratory Convention & Exhibition.

Grants: We have received several grants, mainly from Corporate Partners. Net grant income is better in 2017 compared to 2016, primarily because of a large study commissioned by one of our Corporate Partners.

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Donald F. Egan Scientific Memorial Lecture

Caring for the Mechanically Ventilated Patient — a Patient-Centered Approach

Sangeeta Mehta.

The days when mechanically ventilated patients were always heavily sedated and immobilized are numbered, and Sangeeta Mehta, MD, will explain why in tomorrow’s Egan Lecture.

The talk will cover the new ICU mindset, which calls for patients to be awake, comfortable, and able to mobilize whenever possible. She’ll make the case that this more patient-centered focus results in better short- and long-term outcomes for patients and families alike.

“Admission to the ICU and mechanical ventilation are difficult experiences for patients and their family members,” says Dr. Mehta. “This presentation will highlight important evidence related to comfort and sedation management, ICU delirium, mobilization, and the patient experience.”

Dr. Mehta is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and research director at the Mount Sinai Hospital ICU, where her primary research interests lie in the use of sedation and neuromuscular blockade in the ICU, noninvasive ventilation in acute respiratory failure, mechanical ventilation in acute lung injury, weaning from mechanical ventilation, high frequency oscillatory ventilation, and pulmonary physiology in ARDS.

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Welcome 2018 Corporate Partners

Our Corporate Partners for 2018 are CareFusion, Masimo, Medtronic, Monaghan, Philips Respironics, Draeger, Maquet, Teleflex, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, ResMed, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, and Sunovian.

All of these companies comprise best-in-class organizations interested in supporting the goals and work of the Association. The program provides respiratory care providers with information, insights, and innovative approaches to improve performance and advance the health of their patients.

These companies are all hosting booths in the Exhibit Hall in Indy, and attendees are taking advantage of the opportunity to visit with their representatives, who have a passion for respiratory care and want to do whatever they can to see our profession move forward.

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