Respiratory education


Oct. 24-30 is Respiratory Care Week at Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center.

The department-wide open house aims to help educate and screen those with respiratory issues.

Cardiopulmonary/neurodiagnostic manager Scott Ferguson hopes the week will bring in those who may have respiratory problems so they can be helped.

“Locally, we’re not seeing probably the volume we should be seeing in the lab,” he said. “I think it’s pre-existing in probably a good, high number because nationwide I think it’s the No. 3 killer right now. We’re just not seeing it here on the island.”

Those who participate can get a spirometry screening that will produce lung health results on a software program that gives doctors different information to work with.

“During 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. our community members can come into the respiratory department, they can meet and sit down with a respiratory therapist and just chat if they have anything pre-existing as far as their lung disease or lung health in general,” Ferguson said.

“The additional goal for respiratory care week is any parents who have children who are, say, for example asthmatics, they can come in and we can see if they’re properly managing their disease in the home.”

The department will give out free AeroChambers during the week that connect to inhalers and help to distribute the medicine more evenly.

They will also educate people about peak flow. The peak flow meters are free, and will help people to assess their symptoms properly to see if they should seek medical intervention or need to medicate themselves.

“They can know when they’re in the danger zone,” hospital spokesperson Borghy Holm said. “And they know, OK, I really need to go to the doctor or, use my inhaler or on the extreme end go to the emergency room, and they can be trained here on how to use that so they really know what their medical status of the asthma is.”

These free tools are important, because not everyone is self-medicating or assessing himself or herself correctly, Ferguson said.

“We wanted to make sure that these are available because what we’re finding is a lot of patients are coming in who are asthmatics or who have chronic lung disease and they’re not really properly self-medicating themselves if they’re on a home regimen or managing their disease progression,” he said.

There aren’t any numbers on Kodiak asthmatics, but a new computer archive will allow the hospital to track asthmatics annually and have those numbers to produce.

Key areas that are at a high risk for asthmatic problems are people who are exposed to workplace chemicals, welders and cannery workers, Ferguson said. Even the sea life can have an adverse affect for those with lung problems.

“There’s allergens as a result of the shellfish here locally in Kodiak, which is typically a significant trigger for our asthmatics,” Ferguson said.

Those without a history of breathing problems may want to stop by just for a free checkup as well.

“Sometimes even athletes would benefit from coming in and getting some baseline data established, or if they’re noticing a slight decrease in their peak performance, whether they’re a hiker or a skier or a mountain climber,” Ferguson said.

Mirror writer Louis Garcia can be reached via e-mail at

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