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COVID-19 Behind the Scenes: Respiratory Therapy at Gulf Coast Medical Center (GCMC)

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Author name: Lee Health

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Gulf Coast Medical Center RT photo

Members of the Respiratory Therapy Team at Gulf Coast Medical Center learning about the new ventilators that will help us provide better patient care.

“We help people breathe who can’t breathe on their own,” says Kelli Brucci, registered respiratory therapist-Critical Care, Gulf Coast Medical Center. “I often feel like we are the unsung heroes, since people are unaware that we work closely with COVID-19 patients.” 

Throughout the pandemic, you’ve heard “Thank you, doctors and nurses.” But respiratory therapists are a pivotal part of the COVID-19 response team. From ventilators for use on sedated patients, to breathing exercises on recovering patients, they work closely with the patients every step of the way. 

The respiratory therapy team at GCMC comprises a few specialized caregivers that cover every floor at the hospital. Not a single department goes without respiratory therapy. Each therapist can have up to nine patients per shift, but they also help one another when needed.

“Our team has a close bond with another,” says William Windland, lead respiratory therapist. “I have been doing this for almost 30 years, and I can tell you that having a close-knit team is very important, especially when caring for patients.”

Mary Mark is one of the respiratory therapy assistants who prepares the ventilator equipment for the next use. Her role is critical because when a patient is admitted and needs to be on a ventilator for lung support, the time is limited. 

“We have been so busy since the start of the pandemic,” says Mary. “It has been hard, but I know my role is important. I am here for the patients and to support my respiratory therapists. I truly love the meaningful work I do.”

Lee Health’s talented and dedicated respiratory therapists continue to care for the Southwest Florida community throughout this pandemic, even when the future may seem uncertain. 

“The pandemic has been the most challenging part of my career,” says Kelli. “Every day we give our all to the patients, and that is all we can do.”

We are #LeeHealthStrong and #RTStrong #RCWeek21

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