Advocating for Patients, Meeting Their Needs

 Published: February 6, 2019

By: Heather Willden


photo of Loftin with her aunt and a patient
Tonya Loftin, back right, joins a patient and her aunt in advocating for issues important to those with respiratory conditions in the post-acute setting.

The AARC joined forces with The FACES Foundation to honor one RT each year who stands out from the crowd when it comes to advocating for patients, and the 2018 honor went to Tonya Loftin, RRT.

As director of population health for Eventa, a Tennessee-based firm established to consult with government and private health plans and international manufacturers on respiratory-related factors in the post-acute care setting, she works closely with patients and their families to ensure optimal care.

Patients first

Loftin credits her devotion to patients and families to her first job in the post-acute arena in 2004.

“Our motto was Patient Care First,” she said. “Our owners were very much patient advocates and taught me everything I know. We went above and beyond at every opportunity to advocate for our patients.”

According to the RT, patients who need respiratory services in the post-acute setting often do not have a voice and she works hard to give them that voice with other clinicians, providers, social services, payors, and their own families and caregivers. Children in this setting especially tug at her heartstrings.

“Pediatrics has always had a special place in my heart,” she said. “I have been able to advocate for so many to have the help they and their caregivers needed. And I have been blessed to hear the first words from children with trachs and even adults with trachs. I would not change any of it. Each and every patient has meant the world to me.”

Our most important role

Loftin believes respiratory therapists possess an invaluable amount of knowledge to apply to patients struggling with respiratory conditions and she says it is the RT’s obligation to advocate for these patients in an ever-changing health care industry.

“Every time you are in contact with a patient, whether telephonic or in person, there is an opportunity to make sure they have what they need, that they are cared for,” she emphasizes. She particularly urges RTs to use their expertise to handle the situations that can seem overwhelming for patients and families to handle on their own.

Sometimes that means taking the message out to leaders in the community who can make a difference. She helped one recent patient do just that at the Tennessee State Capitol.

“She was able to discuss her path and progress and how desperately the need is for quality care in the sub-acute setting,” Loftin said. “She is a rock star and desires to tell her story to the world.”

Assisting more patients to do just that will mean better care for all patients down the road.

“Every patient deserves care and someone to advocate for them,” Loftin said. “No matter where you work or what your role is, the patient is the core of all we do. And they should be treated as the most important part of our roles.”

Email with questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

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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