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This week, GMercyU’s Respiratory Care Program sent three ventilators to have their functionality and performance capabilities verified and moved to local hospitals, including the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Lehigh Valley Medical Center, to assist in the Covid-19 crisis.
“We are obviously happy to help our respiratory therapy friends on the front lines and particularly those hospitals that serve as clinical affiliates of ours,” said GMercyU Respiratory Care Program Director William Galvin, MSEd, RRT, CPFT, AE-C, FAARC. “We feel it’s important to get the ventilators out of labs and into the hands of the institutions that can use them. It doesn’t matter who gets them, as long as they are being used for patients that need them.”
In addition to the ventilators, all supplies and equipment — masks, shields, gowns, ventilator filters, etc. — from GMercyU’s Respiratory Care Program were donated to local affiliate hospitals, including the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
“When I met the therapists at Penn, you would have thought I was bringing them gold,” Professor Galvin said. “They were particularly ecstatic with the ventilator filters for reasons that only RTs [respiratory therapists] would understand. I saw good friends and old grads and while we wanted to hug each other, we settled for elbow bumps.”
Respiratory therapists are on the front lines alongside their nursing and physician colleagues. These seasoned and experienced professionals hold considerable expertise in advanced life support and their role is central to the care and management of the Covid-19 crisis, Professor Galvin explained. Trained and educated on all aspects of mechanical ventilation, they work directly with the mechanical ventilators and know the intimate details of the technology — how the ventilator works, how to set it up, and how to troubleshoot it should something go awry.
“Their education also goes beyond technology as we teach them how to interface the ventilator with the particular needs of the patient,” Professor Galvin said.
Covid-19 will present unique challenges; the patients will have extremely stiff lungs and serious oxygenation problems, he explained. Respiratory therapists will make appropriate changes and adaptations to the ventilator based on constantly changing patient conditions.
“I am very proud of our grads and also pleased to hear that our soon-to-graduate students are ready to jump in and help out when they graduate from the program in the next month,” Professor Galvin said.
“Their role will be significant, as well, as they will provide care to the less critically ill hospitalized patient suffering from asthma, COPD, pneumonia, etc. that need breathing treatments, oxygen therapy, etc. They are ready and willing to go,” he said. “This will allow the more experienced and seasoned therapists to work in the units with the more gravely ill. This will be a team effort, and I tell our faculty (who would like to get out on the front lines and help their buddies) that our role is to continue to teach, cultivate, and prepare the next class of students to become caring, compassionate, and competent respiratory therapists.”
Professor Galvin also shared that all Respiratory Care Program faculty are working behind the scenes in other capacities to address needs caused by the Coronavirus.
For example, Tom Lamphere ’91 (shown in the photo above) is an alumnus and part time faculty member at GMercyU; he is also the Executive Director for the Pennsylvania Society for Respiratory Care.
“He is spearheading much of the effort to inventory, secure approval, and distribute the ventilators throughout the entire state,” said Professor Galvin. “He is doing a great job. He will also be working at Penn as one of the E-Center Critical Care Therapists starting next week.”
GMercyU Respiratory Care faculty members have participated in a number of live webinars that were offered throughout the state to assist program faculty in identifying best practices in the delivery of education.
One faculty member with expertise in disaster management, Randy Solly, also provided webinars to all respiratory therapists throughout the state on preparatory measures related to Covid-19.