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Respiratory Therapy week observed

By By LYDIA GRIMES Feature Reporter
Respiratory Care Week is being celebrated the week of Oct. 25-29 by those who work in the field. It is sponsored by the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) and is meant to point out the many ways the professionals in the field work to ensure lung health.
One of those who works in the respiratory department at D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital is Mary Yoder.
Yoder has worked in the department for longer than anyone else, having been there for the past 25 years. Her co-workers are Betty Johnson (23 years), Lisa Booker (15 years), Rhonda Brown (10 years), Michelle Faulk (nine years), Lynn Stallworth (six years), Summer Taylor (one and a half years) and Lillian Heller, manager of the department, who has been there eight years.
Yoder and her fellow workers take the time during Respiratory Care Week to educate others, recruit new students into the profession and promote lung health awareness in the community. The mission of the week include the following:
National Respiratory Therapy Week became an official national event in 1982 with a trip of executives and officers of the American Association for Respiratory Therapy (AART) to the White House.
In 1986, AART became the AARC. Since then the national event has grown to reach all states in the United States and beyond. Wednesday is Lung Health Day, and the employees of D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital encourage everyone to get tested for lung disease.
Yoder works in the cardiopulmonary care department at McMillan. She and her fellow workers evaluate, treat and care for patients with heart and lung problems such as asthma, pneumonia, emphysema and influenza. They do stress tests, EKGs, operate life support systems, respond to cardiac codes, ventilation and draw blood to check the flow of oxygen, carbon dioxide and the pH of the blood.
They do air-way management in heart attacks or cardiac arrest and take care of patients who need breathing treatments, the nebulizer for administering medication, chest physiotherapy and deep breathing exercises after surgery to prevent fluid from building in the lungs. They are also responsible for intermittent positive pressure breathing (IPPB) which is pushing into the lungs to force deep breaths. Operating ventilators for those who can't breathe on their own is also a task for the department.
Up until last May, most of those who work in the department were trained on the job. At that time the state passed a law requiring those who work there to go to school to be certified.
Right now anyone interested in going into the field has to have an associate's degree, one year to be certified and another year to be registered. They also have to take and pass a national exam to be certified.
Yoder was born and grew up in the area. She graduated from W.S. Neal High School in 1970.
She got married in 1973 to Donald Yoder, who was in the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army. It was at the end of the war in Vietnam and he was sent to Fort Campbell, Ken., so that meant the end of Yoder's education at JDJC. The couple moved to Fort Campbell and later on to Germany. During this time their children were born, Lisa in 1973 and Jason in 1976.
After returning from Germany, the family were sent to Fort Benning, Ga., for a while until he retired from the service. They then moved back to this area where she went to work at D.W. McMillan and her husband worked with his brother for a while and then with the Escambia County Sheriff's Department. After being hurt on the job, he returned to the military, joining the Army National Guard full time until his death of a brain tumor in 1994. They built their home, and the children attended W.S. Neal.
After beginning work at D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital in 1979, Yoder began working in the respiratory department, where she received on-the-job training. She became certified in 1984.