Jessica Gardner, who has been working as a respiratory therapist at the Thomasville Medical Center in Davidson County, North Carolina for 11 years, has been chosen as Practitioner of the Year by the North Carolina Society for Respiratory Care. She was recently handed her award at the Society’s 36th annual event in Asheville.
Gardner is the head of the respiratory therapists as well as being the emergency management coordinator for the hospital. She and her team work in all areas of the hospital from the emergency department through to intensive care and the neonatal unit. In addition they have outpatient clinics helping those with breathing problems, and they are also on hand for those on life support or ventilators.
There are several respiratory problems common in Davidson County, mostly due to the environment, as the area used to be mainly industrial with all the problems that are associated with it, such as dust and toxic by-products.
Gardner says that the illness she comes across most often is COPD, which stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Data shows that the admission rate for COPD where she works is higher than the average across the state. Add to this, the number of smokers in Davidson County at 29.6 percent is almost ten percentage points higher than the rest of the state.
Gardner says that the fact that the hospital is smaller than the average means that there is a good team spirit among the staff and they can really bond with the patients.
Mike Crabb, who is head of heart and lung services at the hospital, said that Gardener was a fitting recipient of the award, as not only was she committed to her patients, treating them with professionalism and care, but her team also valued her excellent leadership skills.