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Doreen Torres Is a Breath of Fresh Air

December 05, 2017

When Doreen Torres of Stroudsburg arrived at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital in Allentown, the last thing she expected to hear from her care team was that they could help her breathe on her own again. On a ventilator since a spinal cord injury robbed much of her mobility, doctors at other hospitals told Doreen and her family that she would spend the rest of her life connected to the apparatus. The experienced respiratory team at Good Shepherd knew better.

From the moment they met her, the respiratory team not only knew that Doreen was determined – they knew they had the resources to help her. Together, they worked with Doreen to help her recover the ability to breathe on her own again. This was no easy task, and Doreen’s respiratory therapists employed a lot of creative thinking and respiratory strategies to slowly wean her off the ventilator.

At first, they removed the ventilator for very short periods so she could build her strength. Being off the ventilator for the first time was very difficult. When a patient has been on a ventilator, their body tends to depend on it. This dependency grows deeper the longer the patient is on the ventilator, because the muscles surrounding the diaphragm atrophy.

As Doreen was weaned off the ventilator, other strategies were employed to support her respiratory recovery, including a device known as Cough Assist that helps remove secretions and using the BIPAP  (bilateral positive airway pressure) mode on her ventilator to give her more control over her breathing.

The entire process was truly a team effort.  In addition to her respiratory therapy, Doreen worked with her physical and occupational therapists at Good Shepherd to build the upper body strength that is so important for breathing. Doreen’s nurses at Good Shepherd, many of whom are Certified Registered Rehabilitation Nurses kept Doreen comfortable.

As she gained strength, Doreen was able to do more and more of the work on her own. In fact, she progressed from one hour off the ventilator to 24 hours off in two weeks.

With a new grandchild on the way, Doreen says she has a lot to look forward to. She credits Good Shepherd with her recovery.

“I not only received excellent care at Good Shepherd, but I developed really close relationships with the staff,” Doreen says. “I am so glad I am getting better.”

For more information on respiratory therapy at Good Shepherd, call 1-888-44-REHAB (73422).