COVID-19 can make it difficult to breathe. Respiratory Therapists help you breathe, but more are needed

Respiratory therapists needed

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Respiratory therapists are on the front lines of COVID-19 treatment helping the sickest of COVID patients breathe. It's an integral part of treatment that doesn't get much attention but the experts say it's a field that's growing and more people are needed.

Because COVID-19 attacks the lungs causing shortness or lack of breath, the sickest of patients may have to be put on a ventilator.

Jerry King, RRT, program director with the School of Health Professions at UAB says properly setting up a ventilator is only the beginning of helping a patient breathe.

“Then you monitor blood gases, monitor your oxygen level, your CO2 level, Your pH balance through your arterial blood,” King explained.

It’s around the clock care for some patients.

“Some of your more critical patients are going to need 24/7 monitoring,” said King.

“This latest wave and increase in cases has really put a strain on staff in some places,” said Ed Goodwin Respiratory Therapy Dept. Director at Jacksonville State University.

Goodwin said respiratory therapists treat newborns to geriatrics with a myriad of breathing issues as well; and, with an aging population, there’s an increased need for specialists.

“The jobs are readily available. With this pandemic, so many people are needing life systems or ventilators and respiratory therapists have moved to the forefront,” said Goodwin.

Depending on the program you choose it can take anywhere from two to four years to earn a degree. Then, you’ll have to take a national exam to get certified.

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