Respiratory Therapists Provide Specialized, Life-Saving Care
Trained in cardiopulmonary care, respiratory therapists (RTs) help diagnose and treat lung disease and breathing disorders. Working across the hospital – in the emergency room, intensive care unit, newborn and pediatric units – they work with patients of all ages.
Treating Patients with Breathing Challenges
RTs examine patients, perform chest exams, assess patients’ blood-oxygen level and analyze tissue specimens. They are also experts in the machines and devices used to deliver respiratory care treatments, like ventilators and artificial airway devices.
Working hand-in-hand with providers, they treat patients with emphysema, COPD, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, cardiac failure, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis and chest trauma. They also help patients who have suffered cardiovascular events that can affect their ability to breathe, like heart attack or stroke.
RTs are on the front line, providing care to COVID-19 patients, often serving as a member of the care team that is educated and trained in mechanical ventilation. COVID-19 affects patients’ lung and respiratory systems. The sickest patients can’t sustain normal respiratory function and require intubation – placement of a breathing tube into their airway.
A trained RT determines the appropriate ventilator settings to match the patient’s needs and then provides constant monitoring and assessment to modify those settings based on the patient’s condition.
What to Expect
Respiratory care is designed to be a comprehensive, well-rounded approach to helping patients who are living with pulmonary disease. It can help you maximize your quality of life, helping you return to the activities you enjoy most.
The first step is a thorough assessment, which will normally include an evaluation of your medical history and diagnosis, a patient interview and physical exam, including assessment of your lung function, oxygen saturation and exercise tolerance.
An RT will assess you to gather the information needed to create a personalized treatment plan for you, setting goals to help you learn to manage your health condition.
For more information on respiratory and pulmonary care at Wayne UNC and to find additional resources for rehab and support, visit wayneunc.org.