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Pickens Technical College’s Respiratory Therapy program prepares students to earn their AAS degree in Respiratory Therapy, which can be an entry point to working full-time in the healthcare industry as a respiratory specialist. Pickens also makes it easy to move on and earn a Bachelor’s degree in the discipline. 

 The Respiratory Program at Pickens is highly selective, with background checks and a pre-registration interview with Respiratory Therapy Program Director Jamie Bear as part of the acceptance process. You will also have to complete the General Education Component at Community College of Aurora before you can be selected for the course that will prepare you for a career in respiratory therapy. 

Respiratory therapists are under immense strain because of the COVID-19 pandemic but they’re helping the Colorado healthcare community provide much-needed services to people suffering from the virus.

Temporary Beds

In early April, Governor Jared Polis said he wanted to set up large temporary medical centers to help hospitals deal with an overload of COVID-infected patients. Crews started to prepare the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver for 2,000 ‘surge’ beds. But by the third week in April, demand for these overflow beds dropped, and now, even though the setup process has been delayed, the plan is to add about 600 beds. 

Respiratory therapists in Colorado’s healthcare system have been working around the clock to help COVID patients get ventilators and recover from their often-severe symptoms. While the demand for extra beds dropping is a good sign for the healthcare system that had been overwhelmed, we aren’t out of the woods yet. 

An Alternative to Ventilators

Ventilators are still in high demand for patients across the state. The shortage of equipment to deal with so many infectious cases at once has been a problem dogging the state’s and country’s healthcare system since the outbreak first occurred. Respiratory therapists have been pushed to their limit not only helping to treat people with COVID but also helping high-risk individuals avoid infection and subsequent life-threatening symptoms. Anyone with a weakened respiratory system is at risk of developing serious conditions if they catch COVID.

Some medical researchers have sought alternatives to ventilators. Teams at MIT and the University of Colorado recently proposed a new treatment that can act as a stopgap measure for people with acute respiratory distress. They repurposed a drug used for blood clots to help mitigate a severe blood clotting disorder that causes respiratory failure in many COVID patients. 

The anti-blood clot medication, called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), is usually given to people who suffer strokes or heart attacks to help clear congestion from their arteries. The new treatment is still in its early testing stages, but researchers say that if they find it’s an effective way to mitigate severe COVID symptoms, it has the potential to be rolled out quickly. The researchers hope that they can use the treatment to get patients off ventilators more quickly and prevent people from going on ventilators in the first place.

Respiratory therapists are essential healthcare personnel, now more than ever. If you want to get a jump on joining the Pickens Respiratory Therapy program next fall, start researching the prerequisites and requirements now.