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Respiratory Care Students Promote Patient Care to Congress

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Dana Badke and Catherine Vidal, two senior Stony Brook University respiratory care students, advocated for the American Association for Respiratory Care in Washington, DC, in April. They were accompanied by Clinical Associate Professor Stephen G. Smith from the School of Health Technology and Management’s Respiratory Care Program.

students in DC
Left to right: Matthew Scott, Legislative Assistant to Congressman Lee Zeldin; Cat Vidal and Dana Badke, seniors in the SHTM Respiratory Care Program; Stephen G. Smith,  Clinical Associate Professor, SHTM-Respiratory Care Program and Regional Director for NY State Society for Respiratory Care; and Robert Feiler, Legislative Assistant, outside Congressman Lee Zeldin’s Office.

The group had scheduled meetings with New York congressional representatives to discuss the importance of the clinical care that respiratory therapists provide to their patients and to encourage them to support legislation that will have a positive effect on caring for patients, specifically with cardiopulmonary diseases. Respiratory therapists add to the care of patients suffering from chronic obstructive disease, cystic fibrosis, neuromuscular disorders, congestive heart failure, asthma, sleep disorders and various other chronic diseases.

“It was an incredible experience for our students to be able to walk the halls of Congress and to meet and advocate for their chosen professorial healthcare career,” said Smith. “They met with Congressional delegates from our state and were active participants in the discussions supporting our profession and supporting the need for funding our healthcare delivery system.”

During the meetings, they discussed how they want legislators to include respiratory therapists in any new telehealth legislation, and they want Congress to add language to the fiscal year 2018 Labor and HHS Appropriations Report that would require the Medicare program to analyze Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease claims data and report its findings back to Congress. The reports will validate respiratory therapists’ contribution to improving clinical outcomes for patients.

With this validation and the passing of telehealth legislation, it will provide respiratory therapists, who would be explicitly trained in telehealth medicine, to properly care for Medicare beneficiaries to help recognize and reduce the various symptoms of cardiopulmonary diseases.

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