FORT POLK, La. –
Respiratory specialists from Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, recently completed training at CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital in Alexandria, Louisiana.
Command Sgt. Maj. Shavonda Devereaux, senior enlisted advisor for BJACH, said it’s important for Soldiers to take advantage of training opportunities wherever and whenever they can.
“Training is imperative to ensure skills don’t become perishable,” she said. “Getting many reps and sets in allows our Soldiers to gain a competitive advantage.”
Devereaux said the partnership with Cabrini is beneficial for Soldiers personally and professionally.
“Our Soldiers have the opportunity to train at Cabrini with the latest technology and equipment,” she said. “This keeps them up-to-date with new innovations that are revolutionizing the healthcare industry. Through our partnership Soldiers gain the skills of their civilian counterparts, building their confidence and competency to maximize the amount of lives saved during war and peacetime.”
Sgt. Giovani Gonzalez, a respiratory specialist at BJACH, was the second Soldier from his department to complete a month-long rotation at Cabrini.
“I went to the intensive care unit my first day,” he said. “We conducted arterial blood gas tests to determine the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, which is not something I get to do often.”
Gonzalez said working in the ICU at Cabrini was beneficial.
“We got to work with critical patients,” he said. “We got to help ventilated, bipap (bilevel positive airway pressure), trach, trauma and psychiatric patients. We were able to take everything we learned in school and put it into practice during our rotation at Cabrini.”
Gonzalez said he personally assisted with multiple code blues several times each day during his rotation. A code blue is a cardiac or respiratory arrest or medical emergency.
“I learned quickly to respond immediately to a code blue,” he said. “Seconds count when grabbing the crash cart, getting intubation ready and starting CPR.”
Thelma Sumbler, certified respiratory therapist and respiratory manager for Cabrini said her staff enjoyed having the Soldiers there for training.
"Cabrini sees a broad patient base ranging from neonates to geriatric. We have intensive care scenarios in all age groups and perform a variety of diagnostic and complex respirator interventions,” she said. “The Soldiers got to witness and participate in childbirth and intensive care scenarios where ventilator management and airway care was initiated and maintained.”
Sumbler said the partnership with BJACH and other facilities ensures the best care for all patients throughout the region.
“This rotation gave the active duty respiratory technicians an opportunity to see how our department works,” she said. “Maybe when they end their tour of service they’ll consider joining our team.”
Sgt. Connor Hayes, respiratory specialist for BJACH, said working in Cabrini’s neonatal intensive care unit was very valuable.
“The experience was great. I can’t wait to go back,” he said. “Before I went to Cabrini, I had never been in the room for the birth of a baby. We are on call at BJACH’s labor and delivery department to assist in complicated deliveries. If I’m ever called in to support a newborn who is struggling to breath, I have more confidence in my abilities to effectively respond to that type of emergency.”
Hayes said his experience at Cabrini will benefit BJACH because he is more prepared to assist with neonatal, pediatric and other emergencies.
Kevin Spoor is a certified respiratory care and neonatal pediatric specialist at Cabrini who worked closely with Gonzalez and Hayes during their training rotation.
“I think having the Soldiers train at Cabrini allowed them to experience different aspects of respiratory therapy they would not see or participate in at BJACH,” he said. “Over the years, I’ve talked to many civilian and military RTs from BJACH and tried to place emphasis on the areas that I felt would benefit Sgt. Gonzalez and Sgt. Hayes the most. Those areas include labor and delivery, the stabilization of newborns prior to transport, as well as emergency room scenarios and the stabilization of adults.”
Spoor said partnerships like this between medical facilities are important because it builds a network between professionals who strive for one common goal, to provide the best patient care possible.
The BJACH respiratory department hopes to send members of the department to Cabrini every month.
Gonzalez said the experience reinvigorated his passion for the field and his military occupational specialty.