It has been a long and arduous journey that is far from over in our nation since the outbreak of COVID-19. As an RT, you played a huge role in caring for and managing afflicted patients in our nation’s hospitals and outpatient locations. We understand we’ve lost colleagues this year to COVID-19, as a direct result of their work with patients.
At the end of June, the CDC reported 84,759 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among health care workers, of which 470 died as a result of caring for patients with COVID-19. We know for certain that there are respiratory therapists in those numbers. Even one is heartbreaking, but as of today we are aware of 13 respiratory therapists who died of COVID-19 in the line of service.
Our communities talk about those RTs being heroes, and they’re right. We will not forget about these RTs’ sacrifice as they provided comfort and care to the dying.
To honor their sacrifice, the AARC Board of Directors has authorized monies to be made available to the surviving families of licensed respiratory therapists who died while caring for patients with COVID-19. Their families will receive $500. The American Respiratory Care Foundation will also donate two commemorative blocks in the AARC Virtual Museum, one for the RT’s family and one for the RT’s employer.
If you become aware of a licensed respiratory therapist who contracted COVID-19 while working and then died from complications of the disease, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are likely respiratory therapists that we are not aware of who died.
As a respiratory therapist I am proud to have served patients for over 40 years. I also know that all respiratory therapists are heroes. In this pandemic they selflessly served, caring for others in their most desperate time of need. We are grateful for their sacrifice and we will never forget those who died serving our patients.
Thomas Kallstrom, MBA, RRT, FAARC
AARC Executive Director