Respiratory Care Currents

 Published: June 1, 2021

By: Debbie Bunch

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National Respiratory Patient Advocacy Award logo

Transitions: AARC Mourns the Loss of James A. Ganetis, MS, RRT, RRT-NPS

Scott DabbeneJames A. Ganetis, MS, RRT, RRT-NPS. Photo courtesy of Stony Brook University.

The AARC was saddened to learn of the death of James A. Ganetis, MS, RRT, RRT-NPS, a longtime faculty member at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, NY, who passed away on May 17.

Ganetis joined Stony Brook’s University Hospital as a respiratory therapist in 1981 and quickly moved up the ranks to assistant director and then associate director of the department. He accepted a faculty position in the respiratory care program shortly after joining the university system. He would go on to spend most of his career on the educational side of the profession.

Over the years, he served as respiratory care program director, department chair, and chair of the Division of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Sciences.

He is widely credited with developing the BSRT program available at Stony Brook today.

Working closely with all the interested parties at the university and in the community, Ganetis explored the feasibility of creating an advanced master’s degree program with prescriptive rights for respiratory therapists as well. He was also at the helm of the department’s efforts to design a master’s program in respiratory care at Stony Brook.

That work continues today.

“Jim’s greatest role in furthering bachelor’s and graduate RT education over the years was his endless support, guidance, and encouragement,” said current Stony Brook Department Chair and Program Director Lisa M. Johnson, MS, RRT, RRT-NPS. “His greatest asset was working collaboratively — he never would use the word ‘I’ but he used the word ‘we.’”

Ganetis was honored for his contributions with several awards from the university, including the President’s Award for Excellence in Team Achievement and the Faculty Honor Award.

An active member of the AARC since 1976, Ganetis also served his state society, the New York State Society for Respiratory Care, in several capacities. In addition, he played an key role in the Council for Baccalaureate and Graduate Respiratory Therapy Education (CoBGRTE), where he was a member of the Graduate Education Committee, Direct-Entry Graduate Committee, and Graduate Council.

CoBGRTE Executive Director Thomas A. Barnes, EdD, RRT, FAARC, applauds his contributions to the group.

“Jim regularly attended CoBGRTE Round Table dinners that dealt with some very important issues for RT educators,” Dr. Barnes said.

Ganetis was inducted into the Lambda Beta Society in 1990.

Johnson says Ganetis will be remembered for his devotion to the profession and the people in it.

“Jim was dedicated and patient as he established relationships with individuals interested in the respiratory care profession,” Johnson said. “He was meticulous while mentoring each person he worked with.”

She shares the following from a Stony Brook graduate that she believes sums up the impact Ganetis had on all who met him: “He was always so kind, approachable, and patient. He will always be remembered for his caring and calm nature towards all the students and his immense love for the respiratory care profession. Jim will definitely be missed. He was loved by so many.”

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Shedding More Light on Long COVID

Researchers from the University of Michigan who analyzed data from the Michigan COVID-19 Recovery Surveillance Study provide new insights into which patients are most likely to suffer from post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC).

The newly defined syndrome symptoms informally known as long COVID include extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, and persistent loss of taste or smell. Overall, 53% of COVID-19 survivors had persistent symptoms 30 days post-COVID onset. Thirty-five percent were still symptomatic 60 days post-onset.

Other findings include —

  • Respondents reporting severe (vs. mild) symptoms had 2.25 times higher prevalence of symptoms at 30 days. They also had 1.71 times higher prevalence of symptoms at 60 days.
  • Hospitalized (vs. non-hospitalized) respondents had approximately 40% higher prevalence of symptoms at both 30 and 60 days.
  • While persistent symptoms were more prevalent in older respondents as well as those with a severe disease, results showed that 21% of 18-to-34-year-olds and 25% of respondents reporting mild illness had symptoms 60 days after their COVID-19 onset.
  • Older age, lower-income, self-reported severe or very severe (vs. mild) symptoms, and hospitalization statistically significantly predicted 30-day COVID-19.
  • Having a diagnosed psychological disorder, severe symptoms, and hospitalization statistically significantly predicted 60-day COVID-19.

“These results add to the growing body of evidence that a sizable proportion of symptomatic COVID-19 cases of varying severity experience PASC,” said Nancy Fleischer, associate professor of epidemiology and principal investigator of the Michigan COVID-19 Recovery Surveillance Study. “People are continuing to suffer from symptoms well after their initial illness, and the medical and public health communities need to help address this ongoing crisis.”

Risk Factors for Pediatric Asthma

A new study in JAMA Pediatrics has identified several risk factors associated with pediatric asthma —

  • Children whose family history includes asthma had a two-fold increase risk of asthma at age 4 – 14 when compared to those without a family history.
  • Boys whose family history includes asthma had higher rates of asthma than girls in their early years. However, by age 14, their rate of incidence was about the same.
  • Regardless of family history, Black children had the highest rates of asthma.
  • Asthma rates in Black children were found to be much higher than in white children during their preschool years, but the incidence rates dropped in black children after age 9, while they increased for white children later in childhood.

Investigators from the Henry Ford Health System led the research, and the data came from the national Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes program. More than 12,000 children across the nation were included in the analysis.

Exposure to Secondhand Smoke in Pregnancy Linked to Epigenetic Changes

According to researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center, exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy can lead to epigenetic changes in the newborn that could raise their risk of developmental disorders and cancer.

The authors explain that epigenetic changes are not changes to the genetic code itself but rather how genes are regulated.

The study based its on data from 79 pregnant women who underwent cotinine tests during their first trimester to assess for smoke exposure. After they gave birth, the investigators performed an epigenome-wide association study on blood samples taken from their umbilical cords to search for correlations between blood cotinine levels of the mothers during pregnancy and epigenetic patterns in the babies at birth.

Those who had higher cotinine levels were more likely to have epigenetic marks on genes controlling the development of brain function, along with those linked to diabetes and cancer.

The analysis was repeated in a separate sample of 115 women, with those results showing a correlation between cotinine levels in the women and changes to two of the same disease-related epigenetic regions, one that regulates genes involved in inflammation and diabetes and another that regulates cardiovascular and nervous system functions.

The research was published by Environmental Health Perspectives.

Cytokines Linked to More Severe Cases of the Flu

Some patients recover fairly quickly from a bout of influenza, while others become deathly ill. Australian researchers believe they have identified four cytokines that play a role in determining who will fare the worst.

Conducted over a four year period, their study took samples from patients who were hospitalized with the flu at up to five times points during their hospital stay, then again 30 days after discharge. An analysis of the samples revealed four cytokines that could cause severe inflammation. They believe testing patients for these four cytokines could help clinicians determine which influenza patients are at most risk for severe disease.

“Cytokines are key molecules needed for a robust immune response,” said study author Dr. Oanh Nguyen, from the University of Melbourne. “However, too much of these cytokines can result in inflammation, and in the case of influenza, much more serious infection.”

The study also found large populations of T-follicular helper cells, a type of immune cell that appears to work in tandem with antibody-secreting cells, at around three days before recovery, suggesting we could use these cells as a biomarker for recovery from the flu.

The study appeared in a recent edition of Nature Communications.

Email newsroom@aarc.org with questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Debbie Bunch

Debbie Bunch is an AARC contributor who writes feature articles, news stories, and other content for Newsroom, the AARC website, and associated emailed newsletters. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, photography, and spending time with her children and grandchildren. Connect with Debbie by email or on AARConnect or LinkedIn.

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