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USA Health System
News Release
Mobile, Ala. (October 18, 2004)
Contact: Barbara Shaw
USA Hospitals Public Relations, (251) 471-7262

New Reason to Celebrate for Respiratory Therapists

Respiratory therapists at USA Knollwood Hospital wanted to raise awareness of the role they play in healthcare, and celebrate the passing of new legislation requiring the licensing of practitioners in their field. They did both by persuading Mayor Mike Dow to proclaim October 24-30, as Respiratory Care Week in Mobile.

Respiratory care therapists work to evaluate, treat and care for patients with breathing disorders. They teach lung health and provide information and testing aimed at preventing or slowing the spread of lung diseases. It’s a role most people aren’t aware of, until they need help.

“There is nothing scarier than not be able to catch your breath,” noted respiratory therapist Debra Fennell. “We wanted people to be aware of the contributions and care our profession provides.”

This year, respiratory therapists have even more reason to celebrate, having successfully lobbied the state legislature to pass the Respiratory Therapy Practice Act of Alabama, a rule that requires the licensing of respiratory care practitioners. The act, signed into law in May by Governor Bob Riley, regulates the practice of respiratory therapy by ensuring that therapists meet education and competency standards. The primary goal is patient safety.

“We finally have a law that assures quality care for all who suffer with breathing disorders,” said therapist Nancy Burgess Hughes. “Patients can breath easier knowing that their therapist is certified in the procedures they perform.

Alabama is the 47th state to require registration, certification or licensure. Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont are the only states still without any such law.

In his proclamation, Mayor Dow notes that lung diseases are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and cost the economy an estimated $32 billion a year. He thanked all respiratory care practitioners for providing life-saving care and for the work they do to benefit the respiratory health of the citizens. Copies of the proclamation were provided to all area hospitals.

Nancy Burgess Hughes, CRT (left) and Debra Fenell, RRT (left) demonstrate a respirator used to help patients breathe.

Respiratory therapists at USA Knollwood Hospital will celebrate Oct. 24-30 as Respiratory Care Week in Mobile.

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Last date changed: October 19, 2004 11:49 AM