Back to Top Heart-warming thanks to respiratory therapists in long-term care homes - The Ottawa Hospital

Heart-warming thanks to respiratory therapists in long-term care homes

Respiratory Therapists from The Ottawa Hospital swab long-term care home residents

Respiratory Therapists received thorough training before helping to swab more than 1,700 long-term care home residents and staff for COVID-19 in a single weekend.

Clapping erupted – twice – as respiratory therapists from The Ottawa Hospital were getting ready to leave long-term care homes after swabbing residents and staff for COVID-19.

“It was really heart-warming,” said Respiratory Therapist Rena Fulton, who volunteered to work on the swab teams. Apart from the clapping that broke out spontaneously in two long-term care homes, staff members from every home have thanked the hospital staff who’ve come to test for COVID-19. “It is my job, but to be able to help these people is rewarding.”

The effort to achieve widespread testing in this vulnerable population within the Champlain Region was organized by The Champlain Health Region Incident Command (CHRIC), which coordinates the region’s health-care response to the pandemic across all hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes in the region.

“We feel like we’re making a difference in the fight against COVID.”

When Ottawa Public Health received the mandate to test all long-term care residents and staff in the region by May 15, CHRIC rallied the first salvo within 18 hours. Among those who immediately answered that call were the respiratory therapists (RTs) at The Ottawa Hospital, who began swabbing residents and staff in long-term care homes.

“Within a couple of hours, we had all the volunteer RTs we needed then,” said Suzanne Madore, Operations Co-Lead for CHRIC. “They didn’t even think twice about it. They very quickly stepped up to the plate. They learned a new skill because they hadn’t necessarily done the swab tests in the past.”

Over the weekend of April 25 to 26, a dozen hospital RTs paired with paramedics and swabbed 1,732 residents and staff members in 48 hours. After that, up to 30 hospital RTs continued to help swab residents and staff in the remaining long-term care homes, helping meet the regional goal of swabbing 9,815 people (4,517 residents plus 5,298 staff members) by the May 15 deadline. The swab results identify who has COVID-19 so appropriate care can be given.

“Staff were so helpful and grateful that we were there,” said Fulton, who has worked at the hospital for 22 years. “Every time, they’re always appreciative. We feel like we’re making a difference in the fight against COVID.”

Hospital staff from many backgrounds were also volunteering in the long-term care homes: nurses, doctors, allied health, dietitians, behaviourists and others.

Fulton felt confident and safe going into the long-term care homes because there was ample PPE (personal protective equipment), provided by the region. They were not using PPE from the homes themselves.

After about three visits, the RTs had refined their procedures to be fully efficient.

“We were a fine-tuned machine,” she said. The swab takes about ten seconds as they sweep the back of the throat to get a good sample. Some people gag or cough, but the test is over quickly.

“In a crisis, our people always rally and come together.”

Fulton saidresidents were particularly happy for the swabbing because it turned into a short visit – they had been isolated in their rooms for weeks and love to chat.

“When additional help is needed, nurses are usually approached first, given they are the largest workforce,” said Madore. “But with COVID-19, nurses were already being called upon to work in many areas, so we turned to the RTs.  We respect them for their skills and willingness to help.”

“We were excited to be able to help out, to expand our roles,” said Fulton. “It seemed right up our alley.”

The RTs’ work in the long-term care homes has met every hospital value: compassion and respect for the residents and staff, a commitment to quality in the way they’ve refined their processes, and working together with the homes as well as paramedics, nursing students and other regional health-care workers.

“In a crisis, our people always rally and come together,” said Madore.


Comment on this post

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You might also like…

Taking the power back: The Ottawa Hospital reflects on a year of pandemic milestones

Looking back on the past year, it is incredible what our staff have achieved in such a short span of time, from opening our community clinics to researching new vaccines. Learn about the hard work that has gone into safeguarding our community, as told by our staff both on the front lines and behind the scenes.

Introducing a new kind of grand rounds that supports staff and physician wellness

Caring for our staff and physicians is essential to delivering quality care to our patients and their families. A new virtual open forum series has created a safe space for our caregivers to connect with their colleagues and receive emotional support during challenging times.

Make self-kindness a lifestyle: Five practical tips to get you started

A good self-kindness routine can help you reduce stress and hone your compassion for others. If you’re looking for inspiration, discover how our care staff have made self-kindness a lifestyle.

Med school hopeful Anne-Marie helps patients navigate hospital COVID protocols

If you’ve visited any hospital in the past two years, you may understand the stresses of keeping up with COVID-19 protocols. Throughout the pandemic, Anne-Marie Hartford has provided clarity to patients and their families.

The power of a hug… and a mug

When the pandemic put an end to hugs, Stacey Smith, a behavioral therapist at The Ottawa Hospital knew she needed to come up with a physically-distanced alternative for her team. A local potter (yes, a potter) had the answer.

Drive-thru testing centre an Ottawa COVID-19 success story

Braving cold temperatures, floods and snowstorms, the dedicated team at the Coventry Road drive-thru testing centre performed more than 73,000 COVID-19 tests during 13 months of service, making this location one of the most efficient testing centres in Ontario.

This website gives you common facts, advice and tips. Some of it may not apply to you. Please talk to your doctor, nurse or other health-care team member to see if this information will work for you. They can also answer your questions and concerns.