Coronavirus is dominating the news and you’ve likely been hearing about a shortage of ventilators. Ventilators move air into and out of the lungs, delivering oxygen with each breath. Behind each ventilator is a respiratory therapist (RT). An RT is a credentialed, licensed healthcare worker who specializes in providing care for your lungs. They administer breathing treatments and oxygen therapy, provide care plans and patient education, and collaborate with other healthcare workers to care for individuals who need ventilatory support. They make sure that you always have an open airway and respond to critical situations, such as cardiac arrest.
RTs are found throughout the healthcare continuum. They practice in medical facilities, such as hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes, and go into peoples homes to provide respiratory care. Their knowledge of the cardiopulmonary system makes them especially important now in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“About 5% of persons contracting COVID-19 cannot sustain normal respiratory function and are required to be intubated” says Timothy Myers, Chief Business Operator of the AARC. When this happens they will need to be put on a ventilator. An RT can determine the appropriate settings on the ventilator to effectively keep a person breathing and oxygenated while their body fights the virus. The RT maintains these settings by monitoring oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood.
RTs advanced knowledge of mechanical ventilators makes them even more important right now. Breathe Pennsylvania applauds all of the RTs on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus. Thank you for all that you do!