Respiratory Therapists Facing Challenges While Fighting COVID-19

From WKRN.com – Nashville

Respiratory Therapist in ICUby: Elizabeth Lane, WKRN Web Staff
Posted: Apr 21, 2020 / 05:47 AM CDT / Updated: Apr 21, 2020 / 06:47 AM CDT

WKRN VIDEO

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Some on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic are facing some of the toughest challenges as part of this crisis.

Respiratory therapists are dealing with unprecedented struggles while trying to help patients recover from the coronavirus.

When a patient has trouble breathing, a respiratory therapist is called to their bedside around the clock.

Troubled breathing is one of the top symptoms of COVID-19 and the respiratory therapists are unsung heroes fighting on the front lines alongside doctors and nurses.

President of the Tennessee Society for Respiratory Care Susan Parsons said her therapists must change masks and protective gear for every new patient they treat. That process slows them down as they move from patient to patient.

“To do all of that and work in a patient’s room, not only can your body heat make you hot and start sweating, that’s a big challenge to have to go from room to room, dress out, wash your hands, take all of that equipment off, and then wash your hands with soap and water and moving to the next patient, that obviously slows you down,” explained Parsons.

She said respiratory therapists train their entire career to respond to diseases like coronavirus.

Parsons added the only way to guarantee you won’t catch COVID-19 is by not being exposed and social distancing — or at the very least wearing a mask — is the only way to keep that from happening.

“Opening things back up, I understand we can’t go forever like this, and it’s probably going to take some models that I’ve seen, two years plus before we can get vaccines on board, get people vaccinated and keep these cases from coming up. But in the meantime, people have to wear a mask covering their mouth and covering their nose,” said Parsons.