Tucson respiratory therapists help COVID-19 patients recover

Posted at 6:52 AM, Sep 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-16 22:04:55-04

KGUN 9 is taking at look one profession you may not have known too much about before the pandemic, respiratory therapy.

“A lot of people weren’t sure what respiratory therapists were before covid19 and with the pandemic here at our doorstep, we definitely knew it was our time to shine," said Jeffrey Miller.

70 respiratory therapists are hard at work inside Tucson Medical Center. Miller oversees the team. He is the manager of Respiratory Care Services. "There’s definitely been an emphasis on our profession with the large volume and complexity of COVID patients that we’ve had in our community.”

Miller and his team are working closely with doctors and nurses to help COVID-19 patients recover. “For a COVID-19 patient, we are going to be there right when you walk into the door or come into the door with paramedics . We’re going to assist or place an advanced airway in a patient to help them breathe. We put you on a mechanical ventilator," Miller said.

Right now, there is still a range of symptoms. "We’ll have patients that are completely asymptomatic that test positive for COVID. We also have patients that are sick but not sick enough to be in the hospital. Others that get admitted to the hospital they do require some treatment usually secondary pneumonia," said Miller.

Miller says the biggest change they are dealing with is the number of patients. "We had quite the surge here in June and July. While the numbers have decreased now, we pretty much still have COVID patients in the hospitals.”

There is some progress being made as the pandemic continues. it has been learn as you go for healthcare workers. "As we’ve all progressed through this, we’ve all as healthcare, as our nation, our world, we’ve gotten better at caring for these patients. I think one thing that were all doing a lot better is identifying really early before these patients do deteriorate," Miller said.

Good news, as Miller and his team continue to work on the frontlines. He says the response from our community has made a big difference. "We’ve really appreciated the community’s support that we got and we’ve been getting. That’s continued. I can say for my team it does go a long way. It does motivate them."