Salonen named SDSRC Therapist of the Year

Salonen named SDSRC Therapist of the Year The South Dakota Society for Respiratory Care honored Lori Salonen, RRT, as the 2003 Therapist of the Year at the annual Respiratory Conference at the Sheraton Hotel and Sioux Falls Convention Center Sept. 8-9.

Salonen was chosen from 217 practicing respiratory therapists from across the state.

Salonen is the director of respiratory therapy at Sioux Valley Vermillion Medical Center in Vermillion. She is a 1976 graduate of Sioux Valley Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy and received her associate of science degree from California College for Health Sciences in 1996.

Salonen has had a wide variety of work experiences in the field of respiratory care, including staff therapist, neonatal intensive care transport, home healthcare, pulmonary rehabilitation coordinator, asthma educator and public advocate for the professional advancement of the respiratory therapist.

Salonen is the Political Advocacy Team leader for South Dakota. In this capacity, she has successfully lobbied in Washington for reimbursement of pulmonary rehab and home care services for respiratory patients nationwide. She consistently encourages her fellow respiratory therapists to be active in the profession and to talk to their legislative representatives. She provides public education and screenings for the early identification of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

"The quality of care that we have been able to give our respiratory patients has greatly improved since Lori has been at our hospital," said Noelle Knapp, RN, at Sioux Valley Vermillion Medical Center. "She has been an excellent resource for the nurses and physicians. Lori is always willing to educate nurses and patients alike." Co-workers most often describe Salonen as "energetic, willing to go the distance, passionate and driven."

Salonen volunteers her time for the Yankton Athletic Booster Club and her church. She and her husband, Mike, have two children Brittany, 17, and Kayla, 12, and live in Yankton.

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