Doctors and nurses have become increasingly reliant on respiratory therapists to help deal with a whole host of respiratory problems, asthma being chief among them. However, while a licensed physician might know and respect respiratory therapists, it can be difficult for many people receiving medical care to distinguish between a respiratory therapist and a nurse.
The field is growing into an increasingly recognizable part of the medical community, and National Respiratory Awareness Week plays a necessary part in continuing to educate the public on the specialized role that respiratory therapists fulfill. Understanding this is important as a part of honoring RTs and so that people suffering from chronic respiratory conditions can better understand how to pursue quality care.
This year’s National Respiratory Awareness Week took place at the end of October, and its theme was, “ Changing the world, one breath at a time.” While many states had events and programs in support of the event, the state of Alabama in particular made a huge impact on respiratory awareness.
Part of this was motivated by need. There are an estimated 80,000 people in Alabama suffering from chronic respiratory illnesses like asthma, sleep apnea, and COPD.
“Breathing is important, we all have to do it,” said Brenda Basnight, a respiratory therapist at Baptist East Hospital in Montgomery, Alabama. “You may take it for granted until you can’t breathe, then it gets scary.”
Brenda’s comments were part of programs provided at Baptist East specifically, but were echoed by respiratory therapist’s across the state. However, the greatest impact made in the state of Alabama was in the realm of childhood respiratory care.
Alabama used the week to bring attention to the Camp Wheezaway program. Camp Wheezaway is an annual summer camp designed specifically for kids with respiratory problems. Its programming is sensitive to their needs and its staff are educated on how to properly care for kids in case of an emergency.
The camp has been running for 24 years and played a part in helping kids to feel like their conditions are normal and manageable as well as educating them on how to deal with their illness. A variety of Alabama media outlets put a spotlight on the Camp Wheezeaway program during National Respiratory Awareness week, and continuing to honor programs like it could make a huge impact on respiratory care in Alabama and across the country.