Respiratory Care Services at The University of Tennessee Medical Center provides services throughout the entire hospital to those who require treatment or diagnosis for conditions affecting the cardiopulmonary system. Respiratory Care Services provides approximately 650,000 respiratory treatments annually.
Those served by the department range from the tiniest of premature neonates to the eldest geriatric patients that receive bedside respiratory care, counseling and treatment. Respiratory Care Services maintains a fleet of 92 mechanical ventilators used daily for postoperative cardiac surgery patients, victims of major trauma, premature infants, those with life-threatening lung failure and a host of other problems.
Respiratory Services covers the medical center’s campus on a round-the-clock basis, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Well-trained professionals provide vital lung treatments using state-of-the-art therapist-driven protocols that are as advanced as any protocols in the country. UT Medical Center protocols have been the subject of numerous publications and educational presentations in the local, regional, national and international arenas.
Therapeutic Services—The types of services offered range from routine care on the general floors to critical care and life support in critical care units and the Emergency Department. Both interfacility and intrafacility transports are provided. Therapeutic services are carried out in all locations of the hospital as well as in clinics adjacent to the hospital.
Diagnostic Services—Diagnostic services are provided to inpatients and outpatients through the Pulmonary Function Testing Laboratory, which include metabolic studies as well as the complete range of pulmonary function studies. The PFT lab includes the capability of performing body plethysmography. Pulmonary function testing spans most age groups, but is limited by the patient’s ability to perform the test because of age, physical inability, or an impaired ability to understand and follow instructions.
Special Services—The department offers services that are both diagnostic and therapeutic by providing assistants for physicians in the performance of bronchoscopies. Bronchoscopy assistance is performed both within the endoscopy suite and in the units and floors of the hospital as requested by the performing physician. This service includes all age ranges of inpatients and outpatients.
What is a respiratory therapist? Most people take breathing for granted. It is second nature, an involuntary reflex. But for the thousands of Americans who suffer from breathing problems, each breath is a major accomplishment. Those people include patients with chronic lung problems such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema, but they also include heart attack and accident victims; premature infants; and people with cystic fibrosis, lung cancer or AIDS.
In each case, the person will most likely receive treatment from a respiratory therapist under the direction of a physician. Respiratory therapists work to evaluate, treat and care for patients with breathing disorders.
What kind of training do employees have? The staff is comprised of respiratory therapists who are licensed to practice respiratory care by the Board on Respiratory Care of the Tennessee Department of Health. It is important to UT Medical Center for patients as well as other medical professionals to know that its staff has well-documented competency and expertise. All currently working staff, including the management team, have passed national board exams administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care. Respiratory therapists at UT Medical Center are encouraged to participate in professional organizations such as the American Association for Respiratory Care and Tennessee Society for Respiratory Care.
The University of Tennessee provides formal training in programs for respiratory therapists, paramedics and nurses. Knoxville’s only Pulmonary Medicine Fellowship program began in 2007. It is a two-year training program for qualified physicians who will lead the fight against respiratory diseases in the future.
Respiratory Care Services philosophy is to provide service that is nothing less than superior to all customers. Its customers naturally include the patients but also other members of the healthcare and supportive teams with whom it works with to provide better patient care. The vision is to provide an appropriate scope and level of services that continue to efficiently meet the changing needs of those served.