Working day after day, year after year, in a busy high acuity ICU, we all have become a “second family.”
The public doesn’t hear much about respiratory therapists, especially during this COVID nightmare. But they have been the unsung heroes.
So who are the respiratory therapists, and what do they do?
Respiratory therapists are specialized health care professionals trained in critical care and cardio-pulmonary medicine. They work therapeutically with people suffering from acute critical conditions plus cardiac and pulmonary diseases. College-educated with an associate’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree, they put in hundreds of hours in their training with theory and clinical practice.
We’re a tight-fit unit, and we all learn our roles. Like clockwork, we intertwine in the intricate rhythm of actually saving lives.
During COVID, ER and ICU nurses and physicians were the focus as dynamic life-saving forces.
But if you built a pyramid, the backbone would consist of respiratory therapists.
Without them, our critical care units would tumble down and fall.
They are the right-hand to the intensivists intubating a patient stat as the patient loses oxygenation.
They are there to obtain stat ABGs (arterial blood gas) and assist the nurse and physician in interpreting whether a patient is going into respiratory or metabolic acidosis or alkalosis.
What’s the CO2? What is the bicarbonate level? How do they adjust a ventilator? Should they increase the FiO2 or increase the peep?
The concepts, protocols, and intricacies of respiratory therapists are enormous.
Without the lungs, without the heart, without the respiratory therapists, we’re just a shell.
Without the respiratory therapists, this well-oiled machine, this tight-knit family of health care professionals would self-destruct.
They are precise, professional, and educated health care professionals in this pyramid of life-saving events.
To these respiratory professionals: You are a vital force in our health care system.
You are our heroes, and we sing your praises.
Thank you for your teamwork, excellence and for giving patients another chance at life — another chance to breathe again.
Resilience. Strength. Hope.
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