Working for COPD


Respiratory therapists work for COPD everyday on the job. But some therapists are taking the concept to a new level by volunteering to serve on COPD Coalitions popping up in their states and communities.

These organizations generally draw from a wide range of stakeholders and they are all aimed at improving care and treatment for people living with this chronic lung condition.

The COPD Coalition of New Jersey is a great example. Spearheaded by the American Lung Association of New Jersey, the Coalition’s main goal has been to develop a COPD Strategic Action Plan for the state, and a number of the stakeholders are AARC members.

One role leads to another

Rachel Morales, MS, RRT, AE-C, CTTC, got involved through her membership in the Pediatric/Adult Asthma Coalition of New Jersey and the New Jersey Lung Force.

As the asthma program coordinator for St. Joseph’s Healthcare System in Paterson, she is also part of the clinical transformation team at her hospital and provides education for asthma and COPD patients on the job.

Morales answered the call to support the COPD Coalition not to boost her own career, but because she knows it is the right thing to do.

“I became involved because I care for our patients and for our respiratory care profession,” Morales said. “I feel strongly as respiratory care practitioners, we need to be involved as much as we can so we can get recognition and respect.”

Leading by example

The contacts he’s made through the New Jersey chapter of the American Lung Association led Joe Goss, MSJ, RRT-NPS, FAARC, to the COPD Coalition. His role as an RT educator at Bergen Community College in Paramus made him the right fit for the focus group working on the Action Plan.

Goss believes any time an RT gets involved in activities such as this one, it’s good for respiratory care.

“Involvement with organizations outside respiratory care helps all of us,” he said. “Other professionals can recognize that we are the experts in lung health.”

He uses these opportunities not only to enhance his own career, but also to serve as an example of how professional RTs should operate in the larger world to his students.

Icing on the cake

“I was invited to be a stakeholder,” said Fernando Echeverria, RRT, who works as an RT at AtHome Medical in Morris Plains, NJ. “I thought it was important to bring to the table the viewpoint of someone who interacts with COPD patients in their homes.”

He saw the Action Plan as something that deserved his support because it could ultimately improve the lives of people living with COPD in New Jersey.

The networking opportunities it has afforded his career are just icing on the cake.

“Being involved in the coalition allows me to meet and network with other professionals in my field,” Echeverria said. “Sharing ideas and working together toward a common goal can present different opportunities for all of us.”

Heading to the New Era

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