The best RT departments are not always found in large metropolitan hospitals. Some of the best departments can be found in small community or rural hospitals. Such is the case with the RT departments at Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute and Central State Hospital. Both departments are managed and staffed by CSW Medical Corp, a small corporation owned and operated by two respiratory therapists, Alex and Beverly Saint-Amand. CSW Medical was envisioned in the mid 1980s when the need for high-quality health care in the rural setting was identified. Initially focusing on the care of patients in their home, CSW expanded its corporate philosophy into the hospital setting. With clinical backgrounds in nursing, cardiology, and ultrasound, as well as respiratory therapy, CSW established multidimensional hospital RT departments that offer a wide array of services above and beyond the routine RT department. This has been beneficial for CSW’s partner hospitals as they team to provide top quality respiratory therapists who are cross trained to cover essential services not offered elsewhere in the hospital.
For almost 50 years, Roosevelt Warm Springs (RWS) has provided quality rehabilitation care beginning with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s founding treatment for polio. Its long tradition of rehabilitation for polio patients continued with two hospitals and outpatient services. Inpatients are served in either the long-term acute care hospital (LTACH) or the inpatient rehabilitation hospital (IRF). CSW Medical manages and staffs the RT department at RWS with registered respiratory therapists who have the personality and experience to work with some of the most difficult cases. They interact with all hospital disciplines, the patients, and their families to effect the best outcomes. They are cross-trained for vascular and cardiac ultrasound and provide point of care laboratory testing and phlebotomy services. In 2010, the RWS LTACH began accepting long-term ventilator patients for ventilator care and weaning. With the program still in its infancy, its success rate has exceeded 80%, outperforming many of the larger vent weaning units. With both an LTACH and IRF on the premises, RWS is able to progress patients from the LTACH, to the IRF, and then to home. This makes a seamless transition for the patients and their families.
Beverly states, “Our respiratory therapists want to see the best outcomes for our patients. They routinely attend team conferences and interact daily with physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech, nursing, case management, and physicians to see that our patients are getting the best care. We have developed protocols that allow us to progress patients forward with their therapy without having to wait for physician intervention. We earned the respect of our professional medical staff, and they support our decision making wholly.”
Central State Hospital (CSH) provides skilled and intermediate nursing home care for clients with significant medical and nursing needs in addition to mental illness or developmental disabilities. It takes unique and dedicated RTs to work in this environment of care. Often abandoned by their families, these patients will break your heart every day. CSW’s respiratory therapists meet this challenge head on. RT at CSH is the “go to” department. They provide daily rounds on patients, identifying those who are at risk for aspiration pneumonia, and have implemented treatment protocols to prevent acute hospital admissions. With a high population of tracheostomized patients, they work closely with the nursing department and physicians to ensure the safety of their patients. In addition to routine and specialized RT services, CSH’s RT department also performs EEG testing on its many neurologically impaired patients, ensuring they receive appropriate treatment for their disorder. Without RT to provide this vital service, many of these patients would have to be transferred to outside facilities.
Often asked how they have managed to survive almost 30 years of working together, Alex and Beverly insist they can’t imagine anything different. “It’s not work when you love what you do.” And it helps that we have the best RTs!
Written in collaboration with the editors of RT Magazine.
CSW MEDICAL CORP
PO Box 541
Warm Springs, GA 31830