Registered Respiratory Therapists will now be helping in the operating room as part of an expanded role at both Rouge Valley Health System hospital sites. Three of the 24 full-time Rouge Valley Registered Respiratory Therapists, commonly known as RRTs, began this enhanced role in March, at Rouge Valley Ajax and Pickering (RVAP) and in Scarborough at Rouge Valley Centenary (RVC).
“The expanded role for RRTs is a win-win for the therapists, anaesthetists and the surgical team, whom they’ll be supporting,” says Cassandra Frazer, Manager of Respiratory Services.
The increased responsibility of the Operating Room RRTs means that the therapists will consistently be helping the anaesthetists in:
- Initiation of arterial lines;
- Intubation of all patient populations; and
- Providing assistance with difficult airway management, to name just a few skills.
Dedicated RRTs in the OR
This improved model will mean that there will be dedicated RRT support in the operating rooms at both RVC and RVAP. While this role is new to RVAP, it is something that RVC already had in place. The Respiratory Therapy Departments are welcoming of this opportunity, Frazer explains. “It increases the scope of practice for the RRTs and thereby increases job satisfaction.”
Rouge Valley has 12 full-time RRTs at RVAP, one of whom will now be dedicated to the OR with backup support provided by the rest of the department. Rouge Valley also has 12 RRTs at RVC, two of whom are dedicated to the OR with backup support provided by the department.
RRTs specialize in caring for people with breathing difficulties, including patients with asthma, heart failure, stroke, pneumonia, emphysema, chest trauma, spinal cord injuries, prematurely born babies and more. They help to monitor, evaluate and treat people with respiratory and cardio-respiratory disorders. The majority provide direct patient care for adults, children and newborns in any or all of the following: critical care including emergency; intensive care and trauma services; anaesthesia support; non-critical patient assessment and treatments; support for patients or clients in their residence; diagnostic testing services including analysis of blood for oxygen and carbon dioxide levels; pulmonary function studies and more; transporting patients within the hospital and between hospitals; cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); controlling and supplying medical gases; patient/family/caregiver education; and health promotion.
Within these areas, some of the procedures RRTs perform may include:
- Artificial airways (intubation-putting a tube through the mouth or nose into the trachea);
- Suctioning-applying suction to keep the trachea or lungs clear of mucous;
- Mechanical ventilation-life support system monitoring, assessing and caring for patients who need assistance breathing;
- Medication delivery-using a mask and nebulizer or a puffer;
- Assistance at high risk infant deliveries.