Local respiratory therapist meets with Sen. Tim Johnson

Local respiratory therapist meets with Sen. Tim Johnson
Local respiratory therapist Lori Salonen, RRT, Sioux Valley Vermillion Medical Center, went to Washington, DC on Feb. 7 to ask members of Congress to allow patients who receive home respiratory care to have access to respiratory therapists.

"Our request was straightforward," said Salonen, "We simply asked our members of Congress to add respiratory therapists to the list of providers for home health care.

"Currently," Salonen said, "those respiratory patients who receive home care have limited access to the expertise of respiratory therapists. We did not ask for Congress to spend more money to provide this specialized care, we just asked to be included in the Social Security Act as substitutes for nurses and physical therapists when patients have respiratory care needs."

Salonen said the meeting with her Congressional leaders was an educational experience. As a constituent, she felt that Sens. Johnson and Thune and Rep. Herseth's staff listened to her concerns about how the issue would affect the citizens of South Dakota.

Salonen is a member of the Political Advocacy Contact Team (PACT), a group organized by the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) to spearhead grassroots level advocacy efforts. The AARC has a long history of advocating on behalf of respiratory patients and professionals.

The AARC and the South Dakota Society for Respiratory Care (SDSRC) made the financial commitment to send her to lobby on behalf of all respiratory patients and therapists. Asking Congress to include RT's in the home health benefit was not only the groups unified message, but it was also another step toward ensuring that patients in all care settings receive the specialized, quality care provided by respiratory therapists.

The AARC, a professional membership association of respiratory therapists, focuses primarily on respiratory therapy education and research. Its goals are to ensure that respiratory patients receive safe and effective care from qualified professionals and to benefit respiratory health care providers.

The association continues to advocate on behalf of pulmonary patients for appropriate access to respiratory services provided by qualified professionals.

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