March 26 and 27, 2019 — During these two visits, I caught up with respiratory therapists (RTs) from our Respiratory Care team during skills fairs at the EOB. At these events, RTs participate in interactive activities, find out about the latest research and equipment, and test their knowledge.

RTs in action during a mock code with a simulation doll

With my host Toni Popien, director of Respiratory Therapy and the Pulmonology Lab, I had the opportunity to meet many specially trained and dedicated team members. There are 162 RTs who work at Rady Children’s, and two of them have worked here for more than 40 years! If you add up current staff members’ total years of service, this team has 3,710 years of experience. With those kinds of numbers, you know our patients are in great hands. This is a dynamic team with RTs working across Rady Children’s in more than 12 areas, many of them in leadership and educator roles, as well as serving on councils and volunteering in the community.

Testing hyperinflation bags on a pig lung

Some of the more interactive stations at the skills fair involved trying out new equipment such as the new Max O2 analyzer/blender, which improves accuracy in analyzing low flows of oxygen, as used in our infant patients. RTs also had the opportunity to practice nasal endotracheal tube taping on a pediatric mannequin and work as a team during a mock code to revive a simulation doll that was having trouble breathing. Working with RT Supervisor/Educator Diane Joyce, I got to try my hand at testing out five different designs of hyperinflation bags with integrated pressure manometers — using a pig lung! The bags provide oxygen to patients who are not breathing adequately. It was fascinating to see the differences between the models and how the lung responded to the flow of oxygen. (By the way, my personal favorite was bag number 5!)

Practicing nasal intubation

The team presented me with a tie during both of my visits. One of them said, “Living on the Acid-Base Edge,” which provided a fun dose of RT humor! (Maintaining an acid-base balance in the blood is important for the body to function normally. Balance is good, and what RTs strive to provide for our patients. Keeping this delicate balance can be difficult, which sometimes has RTs “living on the acid-base edge!”)  I also enjoyed the custom stamp they created and the lungs pin that they attached to my passport.

Great tie!

During my second visit, Toni read a letter from a parent who shared how our staff took great care of her son during a brief stay at Rady Children’s, making him feel comfortable and relieving his stress and anxiety. It was a wonderful note that spoke to the vital role this team has here, not only in providing the best medical care, but in understanding the complex dynamics of working with children and adolescents. I am so appreciative for all that this team does for the kids.