National Respiratory Care Week celebrated on campus

Libby Bullinger, Copy editor

During the week of Oct. 24-30, healthcare workers from around the country celebrated National Respiratory Care Week. This annual tradition serves as a week-long recognition of the work that respiratory therapists do.

The celebration dates back to November of 1982 when President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation declaring the third week of October to be an annual recognition for this specific type of healthcare worker.

Another aspect of this week-long event is that the Wednesday of National Respiratory Care Week is always Lung Health Day, another way to promote awareness for lung health and to appreciate those in that specific medical field.

A respiratory therapist is a type of medical professional who is trained specifically to assist patients with lung diseases and disorders that can occur from a variety of health conditions. The work that respiratory therapists do has been particularly important over the past two years as one of the main impacts of COVID-19 is difficulty with breathing.

This is a growing field with the U.S. Bureau of Labor predicting a 23 percent increase of respiratory therapists over the next ten years.

This year specifically, the motto for National Respiratory Care Week was “Resilience, Strength, Hope.”

Mercyhurst was able to take part in the recognition of respiratory therapists by gifting students with American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC) Early Professional Memberships and Oake’s Pocket Guides, which are study tools for respiratory therapy content.

Many academic programs are making the move from Mercyhurst North East to the main campus here in Erie, and the Respiratory Therapy Program is one of them.

Beginning in the spring semester, the program will be housed in the Audrey Hirt Academic Center where students will have the opportunity to complete a two-year program in respiratory therapy under the direction of assistant professor, Christine Gluvna. According to Gluvna, students in the program will complete coursework and clinical rotations to prepare them for board examinations and obtaining licensing that will allow them to work in the respiratory therapy field after graduation.

One graduate of Mercyhurst’s Respiratory Therapy program was highlighted on Mercyhurst’s website last week.

Francheska Martinez-Gomez is a two-time graduate from Mercyhurst and is currently working as a respiratory therapist. Martinez-Gomez, originally from Puerto Rico, graduated with an Associate Degree of Science in Respiratory Therapy in the Spring of 2020 at the very beginning of the pandemic. She was thrown into working with COVID-19 patients as medical professionals with her skills were in high demand.

Martinez-Gomez was stationed at UMPC Hamot and attributes her success to mentors in Mercyhurst’s program, including Gluvna and Nicole Marton, director of Clinical Education.

She took her boards only two days after graduation to ensure that she was able to immediately start helping patients suffering from COVID-19 in addition to other illnesses such as bronchitis, asthma, COPD, pneumonia, flu, RSV, lung cancer and more.

This week is a reminder to be thankful for the healthcare workers that have placed their lives on the line during the pandemic and continue to provide critical care to patients around the country.