Vicki Laywell

Health Care Hero: Breathing taken for granted ‘until we can’t’

The Dayton Daily News is profiling the people who work hard every day to save lives and take care of us. Nominate a Health Care Hero by emailing Rebecca.Mullins@coxinc.com.

Name: Vicki Laywell

Hometown (where you live now): Kettering

Job title: Registered respiratory therapist

COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

Where do you work: Kettering Medical Center

Describe what your day is like/what you do: A common misconception about respiratory therapists is that we just give breathing treatments, and while that’s part of our work, we do so much more. Whether I’m working in the ICU or on the floor, a typical day consists of doing everything from managing ventilators, weaning patients from ventilators in collaboration with the nurses, and rounding with the entire patient care team. We also draw arterial blood gases, wean oxygen, assist with intubations, perform extubations and do patient assessments. At the end of the day, I am literally here to help people breathe a little easier. Breathing is something we take for granted until we can’t.

Health Care Hero: ‘I became a nurse to make a difference’

What inspired you to get into health care? My biggest passion has always been helping others with love and compassion through service. I earned my degree through Kettering College, started working at Grandview Medical Center and then transferred to Kettering Medical Center.

The most fulfilling aspect of being a respiratory therapist is the relationships I get to build with the patients and their families on their road to recovery. Helping people feel better and being there for the families is what keeps us all coming back. One of the most challenging complications of COVID-19 is watching patients have to go through hospitalization without the support of visits from family and friends. For non-medical personnel, the hospital can be one of the scariest places in the world. Fortunately for our patients, our family of professionals at Kettering Health Network goes above and beyond when caring for our patients.

Health Care Hero: ‘I really love my job’

What’s a memorable experience you’ve had in health care? I recently had a patient who missed her family terribly while dealing with some scary health changes. While the family could call in and get updates, the patient was very homesick for her family. I decided to intervene and set up FaceTime calls for the patient and her family on my phone until she could call directly. During times like these, it is especially important for us all to band together and show others the love and respect we would like to be treated with.

What do you want readers to know about your job right now? Respiratory therapy has progressed leaps and bounds over the years. There is always something new to learn, but at the root of the profession is the desire to help people — both patients and their families — breathe a bit easier. Sometimes that means managing life supporting ventilators, other times it means holding someone’s hand as they pass. Through the good and the bad, I am blessed to be a part of the amazing team of medical professionals at Kettering Medical Center.

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