Kentucky RTs Get Actively Involved in COPD National Action Plan

 Published: November 1, 2017

By: Heather Willden


COPD National Action plan

The COPD National Action Plan was released last spring following a several-year effort on the part of major stakeholders — including the AARC — to develop a set of goals aimed at improving the care and treatment of people with the condition.

Now we turn to states and hospitals across the nation to begin implementing the plan. Kentucky has taken up the challenge and AARC members from the Kentucky Society for Respiratory Care (KSRC) are making sure the RT’s voice is being heard.

Reaching out

Kyle Mahan, MSM, RRT, spearheaded the effort after finding a notice for a meeting about the Action Plan on the state’s website late last summer. He reached out to the group as vice president of the KSRC to see if the organizers would welcome participation by RTs.

The answer was “yes,” and Mahan and KSRC President Lisa Houle, MS, RRT, attended the session on Oct. 24.

“This meeting was a COPD Advisory Group meeting conducted by the Kentucky Department of Health,” Mahan said. It was only the second time the group had met and he and Houle were among the 12 participants, including representatives from the state public health department and patient advocacy groups. Tami Cappelletti, RRT, was there as well, representing the American Lung Association (ALA).

“Being a new group . . . there is still a sense that they are finding their footing, and seeing what they are going to be able to accomplish,” Mahan said. “We were wholeheartedly welcomed to the meeting, and feel that bringing the respiratory expertise to the table and being part of the advisory panel will be beneficial.”

Feeling their way

Right now, Mahan says the group is still looking at where their talents and resources lie, but the hope is for the panel to get more involved in supporting COPD initiatives in the state.

The ALA Lung Force Expo coming up in Lexington on Dec. 1, the Coalition for a Smoke Free Tomorrow, and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s COPD Learn More Breathe Better campaign were all touted as good ways to get things moving.

“Another effort that was talked about was strengthening and putting renewed efforts into the Quit Now Kentucky smoking cessation program,” Mahan said. “In addition, the state health department does a 52 Weeks of Health. One of the weeks in November will focus on COPD and COPD prevention.”

Opportunities abound

Mahan says he and Houle came to the meeting with the assumption that the panel was already engaged in implementing some of the goals in the Action Plan and were both surprised and encouraged by the fact that the door is still wide open.

“This is a perfect opportunity for the respiratory therapy community to look at where in the National Action Plan we can focus,” he said. “I am excited to brainstorm with others, and find RTs to step up and get involved.”

Following the guidance of AARC Past President Frank Salvatore, Jr., MBA, RRT, FAARC, in his Sept. 5 webcast, he believe Goals 1 and 2 – empowering patients and improving quality of care — are good places to start.

“This will be a great opportunity to create opportunities to recruit motivated and talented RTs who want to be a part of something great, and can have a lasting impact on how COPD is approached, detected, and managed in Kentucky,” Mahan said.

COPD National Action Plan

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Heather Willden

Heather Willden is the Director of Governance and Strategic Initiatives for the AARC where she works with state affiliates as the HOD liaison. She also manages DEI efforts and strategic initiatives. Connect with her about these topics by email, AARConnect or LinkedIn. When she's not working, you can find her podcasting with her husband, exploring new hiking trails, photographing, and spending time with her family.

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