Northern Inyo Healthcare District is joining healthcare facilities across the nation in honoring Respiratory Therapists for the significant contributions they make as part of National Respiratory Care Week, Oct. 23-29.
Respiratory Therapists treat people with health care issues affecting the cardiopulmonary system such as asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, cardiovascular disorders, and trauma. At NIHD, Respiratory Therapists provide care and life support to the patients of the Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit, and general hospital areas as well as their clinic.
NIHD’s 12-member Cardio-Pulmonary Department consists of nine Respiratory Therapists, two Electrocardiography or EKG Technicians and an Echo-cardiographer. Led by Kevin Christensen, department director and a 28-year NIHD employee, the team has more than 125 years experience between them. Six of the 12 have more than ten years in with NIHD; four have more than five years, and two joined the team last year.
Christensen explained a 2014 merger of Respiratory Care and the EKG departments formed the Cardio-Pulmonary Department. With the Respiratory Therapists at the hospital around the clock and able to do EKGs, the move eliminated call and overtime in the EKG department.
Last year, Cardio-Pulmonary started doing Stress Echocardiograms. Stress Echo-cardiography is most commonly used in the care of a patient suspected of, or known to have, Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). Typically, this diagnostic testing modality is employed after a patient has been identified as having an abnormal resting EKG, an abnormal treadmill exam or when the patient has Left Bundle Branch Block.
Terry Tye, Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer, has been with NIHD since 2001, prior to that he was employed at Stanford University Medical Center for nine years and Palo Alto Medical Foundation for 15 years. “The District is fortunate to have an Echo-cardiographer with more than 30 years of experience,” Christensen said.
The Cardio-Pulmonary Department also offers complete pulmonary function studies. These studies are currently completed by three of the Respiratory Therapists — Darin Graves, Ken Lyndes and Morgan Nutting.
Cardio-Pulmonary also offers smoking cessation counseling for in-patients and out-patients. Respiratory Therapist Niki Mewborn became a “Certified Freedom from Smoking Facilitator” in May 2014. Mewborn has taken this information and taught other NIHD therapists the details of talking to patients on the importance of smoking cessation.
The current Cardio-Pulmonary team consists of Respiratory Therapists Kevin Christensen, Amy Stange, Darin Graves, Niki Mewborn, Sarah Miller, Ken Lyndes, Austin Archer, Morgan Nutting, Sean McWilliams and Heather Anderson; Echo-cardiographer Terry Tye; and EKG Technician Mykala Howard. Additionally, joining the team in November as an EKG Technician is Breanna Core, Licensed Vocational Nurse.
Dr. Asao Kamei has served as the department’s Medical Director for the past 28 years.
About Northern Inyo Healthcare District: Founded in 1946, Northern Inyo Healthcare District features a 25-bed critical access hospital, a 24-hour emergency department, a primary care rural health clinic, a diagnostic imaging center, and clinics specializing in women’s health, orthopedics and neurology, pediatrics and allergies and general surgery. Continually striving to improve the health outcomes of those who rely on its services, Northern Inyo Healthcare District aims to improve our communities one life at a time. One team, one goal, your health.