More than 100 COVID-19 patients in San Diego County are being treated at Intensive Care Units (ICU) and many of them are on ventilators. Among those responsible for running the machines are respiratory therapists. The coronavirus outbreak has made the job especially challenging.
“As a front care worker, I have to not only worry about transmitting this disease to other people in the hospital but what about my own family. What about my friends. I’ve had to come home to these people, and it’s dangerous,” said Vill Miranda, a respiratory therapist at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa.
During the health emergency, respiratory therapists have to work very closely with people who are infected with COVID-19.
“I’ve actually had two patients that I’ve taken care of. It’s a lot of time to get into these patients' rooms. I strongly suggest people follow the guidelines, do what they’re asked of and try and stay safe,” Miranda said.
The word of warning comes as San Diego County rushes to get hundreds of more ventilators. There were at least 477 ventilators available to local hospitals on Saturday, according to the County of San Diego. The county has ordered 125 more and has requested 600 from the State of California.
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In the coming weeks, hospitals across the country are expected to see more patients, and therapists with specialized training will be needed.
The job of a respiratory therapist has suddenly become more dangerous, but Miranda’s training has helped him take on the challenge.
“I’m actually a former Marine and my mentality is actually a little different because I just go in and say, this is the job I choose to do and this is the mission I’m going to complete,” Miranda said.
Miranda says some of his fellow therapists have broken down and are scared to go into some rooms. That’s why he urges people to follow public health guidelines.
The State of California is calling on more respiratory therapists to help fight the COVID-19 outbreak. Trained professionals can apply for the State Health Corps by visiting its website.
How to Help in San Diego County During the Coronavirus Pandemic: Find out what you can do to lend a hand during these difficult times.