Respiratory Therapists and the treatments they provide have always played an essential role in helping our community breathe easy—literally and figuratively. This past year, Respiratory Therapists became central in the fight against COVID-19. Our Respiratory Therapy team at Artesia General Hospital continues to rise to the daily challenges presented by the pandemic—providing comfort and life-saving treatments to the citizens of Artesia and the other communities we serve.
Members of our Respiratory Therapy team were asked to share their thoughts on the experience. Their replies reflect our hospital’s commitment to the provision of quality, accessible health care—and paint a unique picture of what it was like on the medical front lines of this pandemic.
How did you cope with the virus and its impact?
- “It was very hard to transition to the new normal we are dealing with currently. Having children and a family and working on the front lines as a Respiratory Therapist was very challenging—never knowing if I could be carrying back the virus to my family. Finding ways to cope with it was challenging, but working out was a good release to help me keep my head on straight.” —Francisco Ortiz, RRT
- “I dealt like everyone else. Came to work, took the best precautions I could and prayed that I never took home the virus.” —Mario Zamora, RPSGT, RRT, RRT-NPS
- “The COVID-19 pandemic has affected each and every one of us in different ways. In order to cope with what has happened during this pandemic, I’ve leaned into exercising and finding time for just myself. I find myself holding on tighter to my family and telling them more and more often how much I love and appreciate them.” —Malorey Duran, RRT
What are some ways in which your work has changed?
- “During this pandemic, we all became closer with our patients. I can honestly say each one of them held a little special place in our hearts. It was a very difficult time for us. We never knew if the patient would ever see their family again. One of the best feelings was being able to see a patient defeat COVID and go home. Over the past year, I believe our department has proven how strong we truly are. As a department, we have always worked together and leaned on each other—but this year definitely proved how much we truly have each other’s back.” —Malorey Duran, RRT
- “Definitely wearing an N95 mask when interacting with patients. Now, we assume that everyone who comes into the ER or is admitted to the hospital has COVID. I’ve learned not to take anything for granted when it comes to my job. I love taking care of our community, and I want to be able to do so for the long haul.” —Francisco Ortiz, RRT
- “Over the past year, the world actually saw the importance of the Respiratory Therapist role in caring for COVID patients. We lost many therapists to COVID, but that never stopped us from showing up and being there for the patients, nurses and other medical staff who ran towards the fire.” —Mario Zamora, RPSGT, RRT, RRT-NPS
- “I have been a Respiratory Therapist for 24 years, and I never imagined we would be confronted with this virus. As COVID affected our community, the Cardiopulmonary Department became more important than anyone ever really knew. We as a department depended on each other and became like family to our patients. In January, I contracted COVID. As an RRT, our job is to help patients breathe, and here I was struggling myself. God gave me the strength to overcome this virus. I know that COVID made a difference in my life—not only as an RT, but also as a person. To this day, I walk into a patient’s room with a smile, knowing that my smile will bring them comfort and hope.” —Veronica Montoya, RRT