It's not every day you hear a boast about being one of 500. But ETMC Athens is proud to do just that. Why? There are 5,000 hospitals in the United States. Of that number, 500 hospitals - a mere 10 percent - are currently recognized by qualified experts as providing "the highest standards of respiratory care."
So says Sherry Milligan, associate executive director of the American Association for Respiratory Care. The association recently certified East Texas Medical Center Athens as a Quality Respiratory Care institution. It's the third year in a row - beginning with the program's inception -- the Athens hospital has received the honored designation. It may not sound like more than a technical classification, but what it means is very real in the lives of patients receiving care at the Henderson County hospital.
"Most people take breathing for granted until they are having trouble breathing, and then they want the very best care available and want that care administered by competent staff," said Rick Smith, director of pulmonary services at the hospital. "ETMC Athens provides just that to the residents of this area: high-quality respiratory care administered by highly trained respiratory therapists, 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
The quality care recognition is part of a national program aimed at helping people identify hospitals that use qualified respiratory therapists to provide care. These therapists work under doctors' orders to provide a wide range of breathing treatments and other services to people with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, lung cancer, AIDS and other lung or lung-related conditions.
They also care for premature infants and are key members of lifesaving response teams charged with handling emergencies.
"The citizens in your community are lucky to have a facility such as yours," said Milligan. With its 19 respiratory therapists, ETMC Athens ensures patient safety by adhering to strict guidelines for providing care. The hospital meets the following conditions:
•All respiratory therapists employed by the hospital to deliver bedside care are either legally recognized by the state as competent to do so or hold the Certified Respiratory Therapist or Registered Respiratory Therapist credential;
• Respiratory therapists are available to patients around the clock;
• Other personnel qualified to perform specific respiratory procedures and the amount of supervision required for personnel to carry out specific procedures must be designated in writing;
• A doctor of medicine or osteopathy is designated as medical director of respiratory care services. The Quality Respiratory Care Recognition program grew out of growing concerns among healthcare leaders and the general public regarding the safety and quality of healthcare services provided to patients. A list of QRCR hospitals is available at yourlunghealth.org. ETMC Athens is part of a regional system of hospitals which seeks to maximize the quality and level of care offered by each community's hospital.
Other ETMC hospitals serve the cities and surrounding areas of Carthage, Clarksville, Crockett, Fairfield, Gilmer, Jacksonville, Mt. Vernon, Pittsburg, Quitman, Trinity and Tyler. ETMC is a not-for-profit organization committed to improving the quality of life in communities throughout East Texas.