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Respiratory Care

The Respiratory Care Department of Mary Rutan Hospital offers assistance in pulmonary healthcare in the prevention, diagnosis and management of patients with respiratory diseases.

We are staffed with professionals knowledgeable in the evaluation and treatment of respiratory conditions involving all ages. Our staff works in a wide variety of areas throughout the hospital offering a complete line of inpatient and outpatient services, including oxygen therapy, aerosol and humidity therapy, bronchial hygiene, mechanical ventilation and airway management, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, arterial blood gases, and pulmonary functions tests. We also have respiratory therapists that provide services in EEG's and the pulmonary rehab program. The respiratory therapists also take part in studies involving pneumonia and smoking cessation.

Your lungs at work

Your lungs are cone-shaped organs located in your chest. They're responsible for your breathing, providing oxygen to the blood and removing a waste product called carbon dioxide. Your lungs are 90 percent air and 10 percent tissue. Air is breathed into your mouth and nose and then into the lungs through a tube or windpipe called the trachea. The trachea divides into the right and left lung then into smaller tubes that end in air sacs called alveoli. The alveoli are where oxygen gets into the blood and carbon dioxide goes from the blood into the lung. This oxygen-rich blood is pumped to the rest of the body while the lungs exhale carbon dioxide. The main function is to bring air and blood together so oxygen can be added to the blood and carbon dioxide can be removed from the blood. Healthy lungs can do this well. Lungs with disease do not exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide well. This may make you feel short of breath. Some examples of those diseases are pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus).

Understanding respiratory diseases

  • Pneumonia is an infection or inflammation of the lungs. The air sacs and bronchial tubes within your lungs can become filled with mucous. It can be caused by a virus or bacteria.
  • Chronic bronchitis. The lining of the bronchial tubes or airways becomes swollen when irritated with such things as smoke or dust.
  • Asthma is an inflammation and swelling of the lining of the bronchial tubes that causes them to narrow and close down or go into spasm.
  • Emphysema is a disease of the air sacs (alveoli), the stretchy clusters of tissue at the ends of bronchial tubes. The air sacs lose their elastic quality and they can no longer relax and let air out. The main cause of emphysema is smoking.
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a term used to describe several diseases that block the flow of air leaving the lungs and airways as you breathe out (exhale).
  • RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) is a virus that happens most often in the winter and early spring. In children over the age of 3 years, it causes mild cold-like symptoms. But in children younger than 3 years it can cause serious problems like pneumonia and bronchiolitis (infection of the small airways in the lungs).