July 15, 2009

Hamilton Respiratory Department reaches milestone

The Respiratory Care Department of Hamilton Medical Center has reached a rare milestone by having 100 percent of its clinical staff designated as registered respiratory therapists. This is a remarkable accomplishment as very few hospital respiratory care departments nationwide have achieved this status.

In the United States there are two levels of certification in the field of respiratory care — certified respiratory therapist (CRT) and registered respiratory therapist (RRT).

After obtaining the CRT designation, a therapist must pass additional exams to qualify as a registered respiratory therapist. Both CRT and RRT therapists are fully qualified to perform patient therapy; however, the CRT designation is an entry level certification and RRT designates an advanced practice respiratory therapist.

Dr. Erick Kimmerling, board certified in internal medicine and pulmonary disease, serves as medical director for Hamilton’s Respiratory Care Department.

“Our respiratory department has a strong focus on competency and is continually teaching and testing our therapists to increase their level of knowledge,” said Kimmerling. “Students from three different schools of respiratory care train at Hamilton Medical Center and those students often comment on the level of competency and teamwork displayed at our facility.”

According to respiratory care director Jeff Hughes (RRT), “Our department has very high standards of care. The therapists treat our patients with compassion while providing pulmonary services on the leading edge of technology.”

The director of Hamilton’s hospitalist program, Dr. Laura Conger, agrees. “They are very proactive in assisting physicians to manage the needs of our patients with lung problems,” she said. “They have a good understanding of pulmonary medicine and the treatments available to help our patients breathe easier.”

Respiratory therapists typically work with the sickest patients in the hospital. They are responsible for the evaluation and treatment of patients with lung disorders and specialize in the treatment of disorders of the pulmonary system such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), pneumonia, respiratory failure, adult respiratory distress syndrome and disorders resulting from trauma. They work with all types of patients, from newborn babies through geriatric age adults.

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