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When your lung function or ability to breathe is compromised by an illness, trauma or an existing health condition, the respiratory care services team at University of Maryland Capital Region Health provides expert care.

We offer a wide range of therapeutic options to treat a broad spectrum of respiratory conditions.

Where appropriate, preventive measures are also available, including – smoking cessation, immunization and improvements in air quality.

Some forms of treatment are used for diseases, including medicines, such as:

  • Antibiotics for various infections
  • Bronchodilators for narrowed airways
  • Non-pharmacological treatments including oxygen, physiotherapy, mechanical ventilation support

Our program uses a collaborative approach to treat a wide range of respiratory conditions. We work with physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals in nearly every medical department to provide quality, safe and efficient respiratory care. We are the only center in the region to provide trauma-related respiratory care.

Respiratory therapists are important members of the health care team. They work under the medical direction of doctors to treat all types of patients, ranging from premature infants whose lungs are not fully developed to elderly people with lung disease.

The respiratory therapists also provide temporary relief to patients with chronic asthma or emphysema, and emergency care to patients who are experiencing a heart attack, stroke, drowning or shock.

Departments that respiratory therapists work with include:

  • Asthma and Allergy Program
  • Critical Care
  • Emergency Department
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
  • Heart and Vascular
  • Immediate Medical Care
  • Intensive Care
  • Pediatrics
  • Surgery
  • Trauma

Many of the respiratory therapists (85 percent) at UM Capital are registered respiratory therapists, which is the highest level of certification for the field. In addition, some therapists have certifications for their area of specialty, such as NICU or critical care.

Innovative Respiratory Initiatives

The respiratory team works together with doctors and nurses in many departments, often attending daily rounds so everyone on a patient’s care team shares the latest information. This allows our respiratory therapists to talk with the patients about how they are receiving respiratory care. Collaborative rounding also lets us provide guidance to nurses and physicians about any issues that arise.

We treat many respiratory conditions affecting patients at any age, from infancy through geriatrics, including:

  • Allergies
  • Any respiratory-related disease
  • Asthma
  • COPD
  • Lung abnormalities

We also lead initiatives to improve patient outcomes, including:

  • Asthma and allergy program to investigate the link between the two conditions
  • Early intubation for critical care patients with ventilation associated pneumonia, to avoid complications
  • NICU supportive care for patients with respiratory abnormalities
  • Pediatric asthma treatment protocols, to ensure we meet patient needs
  • Tracheostomy management, to educate patients and keep them safe

Pulmonary Function, Pulmonary Rehab, Respiratory Therapy

The respiratory therapists at UM Capital use evidenced-based practices to provide the best care to our patients — from the way we write reports to the care provided at the bedside or on an outpatient basis.

Some unique services we provide to our patients include:

  • Pulmonary stress tests, to check heart and lung function during exercise
  • Trauma-related respiratory care, to treat patients in emergency situations

We also offer:

  • Methacholine challenge: This test is a way to check for hyper-responsive airways, which can indicate the presence of asthma.
  • Pulmonary function tests: These studies investigate how well the lungs function, help your doctor make a diagnosis and determine the best therapy for you.

Our respiratory therapists are highly skilled at helping patients improve their lung function. The treatments we offer include:

  • Aerosol therapy
  • Vent management
  • Artificial airway
  • Blood gas diagnostics

More intense therapy is also available, such as:

  • Bronchial hygiene therapy. This treatment uses non-invasive techniques to remove excess secretions from the lungs and improve gas exchange.
  • Bronchoscopic procedures. This therapy is used:
    • To control bronchial hemorrhage (usually from a tumour)
    • For removal of large mucous plugs or foreign bodies from the airway
    • For palliative local tumor resection
    • Dilatation of central airway narrowing
    • Insertion of stents to maintain patency in patients with obstruction of a central airway (due to malignant or nonmalignant conditions)
    • Localized radiotherapy can be administered bronchoscopically when appropriate (brachytherapy). More experimental bronchoscopic techniques include:
  • Photodynamic therapy (in which laser treatment is applied bronchoscopically after intravenous administration of a photo-sensitizing agent)
  • Gene therapy (e.g. for CF)
  • Insertion of one-way valves in lobar and segmental airways, with the aim of deflating emphysematous lobes or lung segments
  • Pleural procedures. There are different kinds of pleural procedures:
    • Pleural aspiration or intubation is a standard treatment for symptomatic pneumothorax. Aspiration, or intubation with underwater drainage, may be required, especially if respiratory function is so poor that even a small collection of air in the pleural space increases breathlessness.
    • Pleural effusion, drains of fluid for diagnostic and therapeutic reasons. Simple needle aspiration can improve breathlessness. If there is a large volume of fluid, drainage may require intubation for a few days. For patients with persistent pleural air, fluid or infected material, a semi-permanent one-way valve may be used.
  • Therapeutic embolization. Bronchial artery embolization is increasingly used to control severe or recurrent haemoptysis – the coughing up of blood, with lung cancer or infection. Using X-rays, a catheter is guided from the aorta into the relevant bronchial artery (or arteries) and a gel foam or small metal coil is inserted to stop the bleeding.

Team Care Approach

The respiratory therapists at UM Capital use a “team care” philosophy to care for patients.

Any of our therapists can work anywhere they are needed.

We want our patients to feel they are a part of our family, and to achieve the best outcomes. Our team is multicultural, reflecting our patient population. We want our patients to see themselves in our staff.

Our team care method gives patients a chance to get to know their respiratory therapist. A trusting relationship between patient and therapist reduces delayed care and missed treatments.