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'Respiratory therapists are heroes'

Posted on Apr. 5, 2020 ( comments)

The MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital respiratory therapy team tests the fit of their new protective masks. Patty Pineda, RRT, shares reflections on the heroic work of respiratory therapists during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

There are 290 respiratory therapists working across MultiCare Health System. Respiratory therapists assist patients who have breathing difficulties by providing general and emergency respiratory therapy. Patty Pineda, RRT, supervises the team of respiratory therapists at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital. She shares the following reflections on the heroic work of her team, and all respiratory therapists, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Respiratory therapists are heroes.

They are the first line of defense against the COVID-19 respiratory illness nightmare.

Large TG RT teamThis photo was taken the night of our team’s new mask fitting. Our respiratory therapy teams at MultiCare were granted the use of P5500 masks. We were given these masks because of our high exposure risk, and the need for us to be on the very front line with these patients. We are exposed before testing can even be done on a patient.

My team is thankful for the gift of protection, yet scared and nervous about what they are being protected from.

Liza is on the far left and has just returned from maternity leave. The next over, Gaby, has a 1-year-old child and only recently joined our team. Mariah, sporting the messy bun, graduated respiratory therapy school just last June — this is her first job as a respiratory therapist. Clarissa, on the far right, is a six-year veteran therapist. Her husband, Marvin, is also a therapist in our department.

Everyone has been working extremely hard. They are strapping on some very scary masks and putting on a brave face to care for our community members.

I have seen them rise up and work as a team.  

Some of our male respiratory therapists had to shave years of facial hair growth to guarantee their masks would fit without leak.

I have watched those who are healthy willingly take on extra assignments to protect those who are pregnant or immunocompromised.

I have had staff members pull double shifts multiple days in a week to ensure we have the staffing to meet our patient needs.

I have had brand new employees just beginning their career at MultiCare come forward and voluntarily take on complete workloads to help. 

Many of our respiratory therapists have small children at home and are coming in to face a virus that they risk taking home to those family members.

Knowing that the community is thinking of us lessens the burden we are carrying. I will tell you that many of them have posted on their personal social media accounts the pictures of the chalk drawings and artwork near the hospital.

We are so grateful for your support. And we are honored to serve.

 - Patty Pineda, RRT, Supervisor, MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital Respiratory Therapy


Join the Hope Grows Here Community Project to show your support for the many health care workers and helpers working hard to keep our communities safe and healthy. You can send a note directly to our care teams and participate in art and volunteer opportunities from home.

Posted in: COVID-19 | Puget Sound | Tacoma

About The Author

MultiCare Health System
MultiCare is a not-for-profit health care organization with more than 18,000 team members, including employees, providers and volunteers. Learn more. More stories by this author
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