PCH/FMC Expands Respiratory Services

  • Category: News
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Nancy Zeman

The Respiratory Therapy (RT) department of Paris Community Hospital/Family Medical Center has undergone dramatic changes in recent months — and more are on the way, according to department manager Amy Krabel

A 15-year veteran of the PCH/FMC department with certification in respiratory therapy, Krabel assumed the managerial duties this past spring. Under her guidance, the department has not only expanded services, but has also tripled the size of its staff.

The expansion of RT is part of the continuing refocusing at PCH/FMC to better serve the Edgar County community, according to Ollie Smith, president and CEO of the hospital.

“You can’t do it all in one day,” Smith emphasized. “You’ve got to have energetic, talented leadership. Once that piece is there, you can format programs around that. When you get the right people and the opportunity comes, it all fits into place.”

One of the biggest changes — in addition to the increased staff — is providing 24-hour RT coverage for the hospital, Krabel said. Previously, patients who required RT during the evening and overnight hours were served by the nurses carrying for them. “Obviously, that’s only one more thing for the nurses to have to do,” she said.

There are currently nine respiratory therapists on staff at PCH/FMC, she said, six of who are registered. Two of the therapists have bachelor’s degrees and one has a master’s degree and is working on her doctorate. One of the therapists is a registered nurse while four are certified in advanced cardiac life support (ACLS). The remaining therapists are scheduled to complete their ACLS course this month.

“We’re providing a higher level of respiratory care,” Krabel, who lives in Indianola, said. “It was a deliberate decision on our part to not only expand, but have credentialed therapists.”

In addition to the regular duties, which includes outpatient respiratory therapy for those served by PCH/FMC, Krabel said staff members have critical care experience. Jodie Redburn, who joined the staff after 30 years working in Terre Haute, is now training the hospital’s nurses and is in charge of all education for new RT employees. “There will be a continuity of education,” Krabel explained.

Krabel said the upgrade in RT is important because of the more advanced surgical procedures and critical care following surgery now part of Paris Community Hospital.

“Respiratory Therapy is relevant to every department of the hospital,” she said. “We respond to every code blue (situation in which a patient is in cardiopulmonary arrest) and are part of patient recovery. We need to push the envelope to provide the services needed.”

Expansion of the RT department is critical not only because of inpatient care, but for outpatient care as well, Krabel noted.

“We’re seeing more COPD than the national average,” she said. COPD is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a progressive disease that makes it difficult to breathe. COPD is often associated with cigarette smoking.

In response, Krabel said a Pulmonary Rehabilitation Unit is in the works, to be housed with the Cardiac Rehabilitation Unit, located in the west end of the hospital.

“Much of the same equipment is utilized for pulmonary rehab,” she said. “We can help those with COPD, a lung transplant, or anyone else who has lung issues.”

Another expanded area is the Sleep Lab, manned by Bruce Scott.

“Sleep problems are often caused by pulmonary problems such as sleep apnea,” Krabel said. Sleep studies are in high demand and are now being offered during the day for those residents who work the night shift, she said.

“We’re going to keep growing our outpatient services,” she said. Krabel said by providing additional services — in any department — patients who might have had to drive to Terre Haute, Champaign, or even Indianapolis, can now be cared for at PCH.

“It’s really not much different than the idea of shopping locally,” she said. “Small hospitals like this hospital are now providing more services for their patients.”

Krabel followed a career path in respiratory therapy, motivated by her personal experience. Her daughter, Marci, has asthma.

“There was not a lot of patient education at the time,” she said. “Now we know what triggers an attack and have action plans.”