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Expanded Respiratory Department Positions Matheny for the Future

Teamwork between respiratory therapists
and nurses is extremely important, says
Dan Cary RRT, far left, director of
Matheny's respiratory therapy department.

Respiratory therapy is a medical specialty that provides a wide range of therapeutic and diagnostic services to patients with cardio-pulmonary issues.  At acute care hospitals, respiratory therapists care for a broad variety of patients, including  premature infants whose lungs are not completely developed and older people with lung disease.  Heart and lung disorders may not be part of Matheny patients’ primary diagnoses, but the importance of monitoring and treating these conditions among the Matheny population cannot be underestimated.

Matheny’s newly expanded respiratory therapy department, directed by Dan Cary RRT, consists of four full-time therapists and three who work on a per diem basis.  While the department is not yet in operation on a 24/7 basis, Cary says, “We are moving toward 24/7, and a respiratory therapist is always on call.”  The RRTs and CRTs, adds Cary, “play a critical role in the lives of patients with developmental disabilities and respiratory illness. They are responsible for patient assessments, care planning, staff education and providing various treatment modalities such as oxygen administration, medication delivery, secretion clearance and Cpap/Bipap for our patients with sleep apnea.

Gary E. Eddey, MD, vice president and chief medical director, believes the hospital’s new respiratory therapy department, “advances Matheny from a clinical perspective. The role of respiratory therapists here is critically important, given the wide range of complex medical conditions experienced by our patients. The expansion of respiratory therapy positions us for the future, should we be asked to care for patients with even more complicated medical issues."

Before joining Matheny’s staff, Cary had been lead open heart surgery respiratory therapist at Morristown Medical Center.  He believes his time spent at Morristown, a large acute care facility, “has prepared me for the many challenges that Matheny’s patients face.”  The respiratory therapists at Matheny now have experience, he says, “ranging from 25-week-old neonates in an NICU to 100-year-old ventilator-dependent patients in a long-term assisted care facility. We do everything we can to make sure every one of Matheny’s patients get to experience every facet of life that they possibly can.”

Respiratory therapy at Matheny was previously part of the nursing department. Now, Cary reports directly to Dr. Eddey.  Even though it is no longer considered part of nursing support, the teamwork and cooperation between respiratory therapists and nurses is extremely important.  And having a fully-staffed respiratory therapy department has made the nurses’ jobs easier and less stressful.  “The nurses at Matheny,” says Cary, “now have a group of people they can rely on, allowing them to concentrate on nursing. 

That is confirmed by the nurses.  “I love having a full respiratory therapy staff,” says Carol Enos RN.  “It means so much to have that support and expertise.  Because they come from acute care facilities, when something does go wrong, they have ideas for treatment we might not have thought of.”  “We’re trained in administering medications,” adds Nancy Bonella RN, “but the expertise of the respiratory therapists in an emergency is very important.  We value and depend on their expertise.  Their experience makes a big difference.” 

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