All the respiratory care departments nominated in this year’s Best Of demonstrate a commitment to improving patient care.

By Alison Werner

The October 2012 issue of RT Magazine marks our second annual Best of Respiratory Care Departments. The departments featured cover a range of working environments for RTs. At Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, located in San Jose, Calif, RTs work in a 524-bed public teaching hospital and serve a patient population that includes nearly 75% medically indigent adults, while the RTs at Children’s of Alabama work in one of the 10 busiest pediatric hospitals in the country.a hospital that saw more than 634,000 outpatient and close to 14,000 inpatient visits last year. The respiratory care staff at Paoli Hospital, which serves Philadelphia’s Chester County, has watched the facility expand from the 157-bed “little hospital on the hill” to a 214-bed medium-sized suburban community hospital and level two trauma center in only 3 years.

Alison Werner, RT Magazine

Meanwhile, RTs at New Jersey-based Morristown Medical Center go to work every day at one of the top 50 hospitals in the country, as ranked by US News and World Report, while RTs at Shands Hospital, a part of the University of Florida, work in a facility with a commitment to education and research while serving a small college town community. And finally, RTs working for Georgia-based CSW Medical Corp staff a number of rural rehabilitation and skilled nursing facilities, often providing care to patients who have been abandoned by their families.

Among the traits of a “best” respiratory care department is its ability to keep up with the latest diagnostic procedures. The technology available to RTs is constantly evolving. As Patricia Dugger, CRTT, CPFT, writes in her article, “Bronchoscopy Through the Ages,” bronchoscopy, which today can be used instead of surgery to biopsy lesions in the lungs that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to reach, started when the first laryngeal intubation was done accidentally during an esophagoscopy. The year was 1890. In the 120 years that followed, bronchoscopy has become a key diagnostic and therapeutic tool in respiratory care.

In more recent history, the discovery of the link between nitric oxide (NO) production in vascular endothelium and inflammation set in motion the development of fractional exhaled NO (FeNO) testing to measure airway inflammation. Today, writes Kathy Rickard, MD, in this month’s cover story, FeNO testing provides respiratory care practitioners with a quick, noninvasive, and objective measure of inflammation that improves asthma diagnosis and management. And as the American Thoracic Society noted last year in its clinical practice guideline for FeNO testing, the modality greatly benefits patient care by better predicting patient response to inhaled corticosteroids and better monitoring adherence to treatment.

All the respiratory care departments nominated in this year’s Best Of demonstrate a commitment to improving patient care. Through ongoing educational and training opportunities, the departments’ leadership ensures that their RTs are up to date on the latest developments in their field—all with the goal of improving patient care and outcomes. They know what it takes to be the best.