You hear all the time about the importance of collaboration and teamwork – and, in the last year or so, because of COVID-19 and its variants, the respiratory care team with Vibra Hospital in Charleston has raised the bar of patient teamwork to levels that team members had never known before – all to help save the lives of South Carolina Lowcountry residents affected by the pandemic.
“The last couple of years fighting the COVID pandemic have been especially hard on all health care workers,” said Hoyt McGee, director of respiratory care at Vibra Hospital. “We couldn’t succeed without the help of our great health care teams.”
These teams interact so seamlessly that you almost don’t notice them – or that they are all separate units with their own specific functions.
For example, you might see doctors writing orders, giving instructions and leading the patient-care team. You may also see nurses getting patients ready for exams, monitoring equipment, administering shots and treatments and offering basic care and comfort. Further on is the pharmacy, ensuring that all medications are available and delivered safely. And afterward comes rehabilitators, therapists, and dietary experts to restore a patient’s strength.
“And our CNA team is instrumental in providing patient comfort – with baths, clean clothing and bedding,” McGee said. “This teamwork is vital in creating an environment that allows our respiratory team to accomplish its goals.”
Through the height of the pandemic in 2021, the Vibra respiratory team successfully weaned 82% of its patients off ventilators. It also successfully intubated 24 patients for mechanical ventilation.
And, as an extension of the hospital’s teamwork, Vibra CEO Michael Lombard added, “Charleston Pulmonary provides our seven-day-a-week pulmonology care for our patients.”
But McGee pointed out that COVID-19 was just the most visible area of Vibra’s respiratory team – that all through the pandemic, the separate members and groups were “taking care of other patients as well.”
This care includes services such as:
- Tracheostomy care – taking care of a trachea tube on the patient’s neck to make breathing easier while a separate medical issue is handled.
- Decannulation – removal of the trachea tube after the patient no longer needs it.
- ABG punctures and analysis – a puncture of the radial artery for obtaining an arterial blood sample for blood gas analysis.
“And they are just a few of the things our respiratory team does daily,” McGee said. “We also teach lung inflation techniques, provide bronchial hygiene, deliver aerosolized medications and place patients on high-flow oxygen systems.”
Since 2004, Vibra Healthcare has been helping Americans at 30 hospitals in 13 states. And since 2020, Vibra employees have gone several extra miles to help patients make it through the pandemic and other illnesses.
“The pandemic has drawn more attention to the respiratory therapist’s role in health care, and we are on the front lines saving lives every day,” McGee said. “So for us, it has been a challenging and busy year. But all of us rose to that challenge.”
For more information on Vibra Hospital, visit vhcharleston.com.
By L. C. Leach III