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Making every breath count

Above photo: Doug Stebbing and Jennifer Williams, RTs at Richmond Hospital working in the Pulmonary Function Lab.

​For many of us breathing isn't something we really think about. We inhale, we exhale. Simple as that. But for approximately 24,000 people in Richmond living with some degree of respiratory illness, sometimes breathing isn't that easy.

That's where the work of Respiratory Therapists (RTs) comes in.

We have 17 Respiratory Therapists working both in acute and community settings in Richmond, as well as an additional 10 who provide casual services throughout our community. Every day, they interact with patients in a variety of ways. From working in the operating room as an Anesthesia Assistant to helping patients in our Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit, and Birth Centre, RTs in Richmond see about 10,000 patients a year—that's almost 27 patients a day.

Last week, we celebrated Respiratory Therapist week—a national celebration to acknowledge and recognize the work being done by these professionals throughout the health care system. As vital members of the health care system, we thought we'd introduce you to a couple of the RTs in Richmond helping residents in our community breathe better.

Meet our RTs

Jennifer Williams, an RT at Richmond Hospital knows too well the struggles of living with a respiratory illness. She's been battling asthma since she was a kid and was one of the reasons she got into her profession.

“I know how it feels when you can't breathe properly and I wanted to find a way to help others like me," she says. “Whether it's providing education, performing tests to assess their lungs, or helping to confirm a diagnosis—some of the best moments are how appreciative patients are when I can provide them with information they didn't have before to help manage their disease."

Doug Stebbing has been a proud member of the RT team at Richmond Hospital for 14 years and currently spends his days in the Pulmonary Function Lab, performing various breathing tests to help patients manage their conditions.

“Our lab is clinical and serves both in-patients and people in the community who come in for scheduled breathing tests," Doug explains. “What I enjoy most is offering counselling and education to our patients."

And while a day in the life of a Respiratory Therapist can vary—from performing tests of patients in our Pulmonary Function Lab to assisting Respirologists with bronchoscopies in ambulatory care—in the end, it's all about helping patients breathe better.

“The RTs working in Richmond have such extensive medical knowledge and incredibly strong clinical skills, but it's the heartfelt way they care for patients, families, and the residents of Richmond that really moves me," says Elan Nattrass, Respiratory Practice leader. “They truly make a difference every day—always putting patients first, embracing their curiosity and desire to learn, and helping out their fellow RTs and co-workers. They are the embodiment of the word 'team' and I'm proud to call them my colleagues."

SOURCE: Making every breath count ( )
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