From left to right, Christa Sala, MEd, RRT-NPS; TSRC Lobbyist John Williams; John Fischer, RRT, EMT-IV, C-NPT; Cheryl Burney-Jones, MHA, RRT; and TSRC President-elect Pam Ditto, MBA, RRT, CPFT
On March 15, neonatal pediatric respiratory therapists took center stage as the Tennessee General Assembly officially recognized the great job they do caring for some of the state’s youngest citizens.
The first ever Neonatal/Pediatric Respiratory Care Awareness Day was spurred by AARC member John Fischer, RRT, EMT-IV, C-NPT, who took the initiative and submitted a proclamation for the day to the state legislature last November. When he learned it had been accepted at the end of February, he organized an event at the capitol building and invited all of the other neonatal pediatric respiratory therapists at hospitals in the Children’s Hospital Alliance of Tennessee to attend.
Special group of RTs
“The therapists who care for and treat neonatal and pediatric patients are without a doubt a very special group of people within the world of respiratory care, so I figured, there’s no better group to lead our profession in a positive direction than the neonatal/pediatric respiratory care providers,” says the respiratory care quality and clinical education coordinator for pediatric emergency and pediatric critical care at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville.
With only a couple of weeks between approval of the day and the day itself, Fischer, who also serves as co-chair of the Tennessee Society for Respiratory Care (TSRC) Governmental Affairs Committee, scrambled to get everything ready. TSRC President-elect Pam Ditto, MBA, RRT, CPFT, drove three hours from Johnson City to attend, and other RTs in the state reorganized their schedules to be there too.
Cheryl Burney-Jones, MHA, RRT, associate director of respiratory care at Monroe Carell, says the roll out was a huge success. “All the Children’s Hospital Alliance of Tennessee hospitals were represented.”
The group met with TSRC Lobbyist John Williams and Speaker of the House Beth Harwell during the event and were officially acknowledged during the House Senate Commerce Committee meeting by their sponsor for the day, Sen. Jack Johnson.
Good for the whole profession
“Respiratory care has so much potential for growth and advancement within our state, but, just as with anything that grows, you must first plant the seed,” says Burney-Jones. “On March 15, neonatal/pediatric respiratory care ‘planted its seed’ for the State of Tennessee and we will continue to work together to grow, expand our profession, and optimize the care we provide to our children.”
Fischer believes the event, which will now take place every year on or around March 15, will benefit everyone working in respiratory care too. “My goal is that this proclamation will be a positive step forward not just for neonatal and pediatric respiratory care but for the entire profession of respiratory care.”
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