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Respiratory therapists at North Mississippi Medical Center are accredited by the National Board for Respiratory Care and licensed by the Mississippi State Board of Health. Respiratory therapists help assess and treat chronic lung problems, including asthma, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as more acute problems caused by heart attack, stroke, trauma or complications from birth. Respiratory therapists specialize in airway management, mechanical ventilation, blood acid/base balance and critical care medicine.

Under the direction of physicians, respiratory therapists follow specific, well-defined respiratory care procedures. Respiratory therapists care for patients on life support in the hospital’s Critical Care Unit and are an essential part of the Code Blue (cardiac arrest) team. Some respiratory therapists are specially trained to help with high-risk deliveries.

Respiratory therapists work with all types of patients, ranging from premature infants whose lungs are not fully developed to elderly patients who lungs are diseased.

To evaluate patients, respiratory therapists ask for information, perform limited physical examinations and conduct diagnostic tests. This may involve testing a patient’s breathing capacity and determining the concentration of oxygen and other gases in the patient’s blood. To treat patients, respiratory therapists use oxygen or oxygen mixtures, chest physiotherapy (removing mucus from the lungs) and aerosol medications.

Respiratory therapists also work in Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation located in the Heart Institute and the Sleep Disorders Center.