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Celebrating Respiratory Therapist Week 2018

October 21 to 27 is respiratory therapy week, and gives us the opportunity to recognize our region’s new respiratory therapists (RT). The respiratory therapy program was launched just under a year ago at Selkirk Regional Health Centre (SRHC) with the arrival of respiratory therapists Jacqueline Winnemuller and Sally Yokimas.

Yokimas and Winnemuller assist SRHC staff both in the emergency room and on the inpatient wards. They assist with assessing a patient’s airway and respirations and if needed, can help manage a ventilator in the emergency department.  In critically ill patients, they also measure a patient’s oxygen and carbon dioxide levels by inserting an arterial line.  Respiratory therapists also help patients with chronic illnesses and conditions by providing education for disease prevention and management.  For example, respiratory therapists conduct regular spirometry tests with patients to measure airflow and lung function. In addition, they also assess patients who may need oxygen therapy at home when discharged from the hospital. 

Working in the region was a bit of a change for Winnemuller, who first started her work in WRHA facilities. In the city, her work was more specialized, but in our region, respiratory therapists do a little bit of everything. She says she enjoys smaller facilities because there is “a little more autonomy and great teamwork and collaboration with the doctors and nurses.” The doctors and nurses were very welcoming when she started here which made it an easy transition.

In addition to other duties, both Winnemuller and Yokimas are part of our region’s “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) System of Care” pilot program, which provides education and support to COPD patients after an emergency visit.

Yokimas says that the “COPD program gives patients the tools they need to take care of themselves once back at home and helps them to stay out of the hospital as much as possible. We follow patients once they have been admitted to hospital and connect them to community support for education once discharged. We have fabulous chronic disease nurses that follow up with our COPD patients after they go home. The chronic disease nurses make sure that the patients understand the information they received in hospital because, when people are acutely ill, they don’t always process all this information. Patients have bigger worries than planning ahead and trying to anticipate challenges at home.”

As for 2018  RT week theme of “advancing the profession”, both Winnemuller and Yokimas are actively doing just that. They are both currently continuing their education to become certified respiratory educators (CRE). They’re hoping that this will allow them to provide more education on self-management and prevention of respiratory illness to clients as they come into the health care setting.

So, as we celebrate RT week 2018, Interlake-Eastern RHA extends a big thank you to Sally and Jacqueline for all that they do for our patients and community members.

Sally Yokimas  Jacqueline Winnemuller
Our region’s respiratory therapists, Sally Yokimas (left) and Jacqueline Winnemuller (right).

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