Over the last several months, PPMC’s respiratory staff have demonstrated extraordinary compassion and courage, from the tireless respiratory care practitioners who have helped patients breathe, to the diligent equipment techs who have ensured that every cannula, circuit, and cylinder is ready for the next arrival.
Rapidly adapting to constant change has become the team’s subspecialty. When they received news at midnight on a Saturday that they needed to transition the observation unit into a COVID-19 unit, for example, they worked for eight hours to set up ventilators in preparation for the morning’s patients. They showed this same dedication over and over again as units were converted for COVID-positive patients, then back again. They also welcomed redeployed colleagues into the fold — such as a group of nurse anesthetists and two pulmonary function technicians who moved from an outpatient setting to the front lines — and shared their expertise to get them up to speed. No matter what changes came their way, the respiratory care team responded with resilience and renewed drive.
Offering them unwavering support and invaluable guidance through the pandemic have been pulmonologist and medical director Arshad Wani, MD, director of Respiratory Care Services Roseann Rapa, MS, RRT, and newly appointed associate director of Respiratory Care Services Huey L. Pigford, RRT, RCP. Pigford’s promotion is among the department’s many COVID-related changes; though this position hasn’t been held since the 1990s, it offers an additional level of leadership as the team evolves during these unprecedented times.
As the volume of COVID-positive patients at PPMC declines and non-COVID patients return after delaying care, Wani, Rapa, and Pigford are using their team’s early pandemic experiences to shape the future of the department. In addition to enhancing COVID- and non-COVID care, updates like an expanded staffing model, a clinical ladder to encourage professional development and advancement, and an assessment of equipment needs will ensure the team is prepared for any potential surges.
“So much has been changing every day, and frankly, it can be exhausting,” Pigford said. But what hasn’t changed has been the team’s unwavering dedication. “I’ve been around for a long time, and my goal as a leader is to motivate my people. But they blew me away. They jumped into something they didn’t fully understand without question, and every day, they continue to join the front lines without fear or complaint. They have been incredible, and I’m so grateful for their efforts.”