Rainy Lake Medical Center’s new respiratory and pulmonary service line officially launches next week.

Jaci Klaphake, respiratory therapist, will begin seeing patients June 13, and is looking forward to finally treating and educating community members in need.

“A respiratory therapist is a medical professional who focuses on lung function,” Klaphake said. “You’ll see us all over the hospital working with anyone who has difficulty breathing.”

Klaphake comes from more than 20 years of experience in respiratory care and knew early on in her career she wanted to study respiratory therapy. Her late grandfather suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, and severe emphysema.

“He did not have access to the services that are offered today,” she said.

Pulmonary function testing

Included in the new service line is pulmonary function testing. Documentation over the years shows early detection of lung disease helps avoid irreversible damage to the lungs. Pulmonary function testing helps provide patients with the tools that are needed not only to identify early detection, but to monitor efficacy of medication and treatment for many diseases and conditions.

“By working closely with the patient’s provider, I can offer a multitude of diagnostics and education of a patient’s condition right here in this community,” Klaphake said.

Pulmonary rehab

Pulmonary rehab is another service that can be extremely beneficial to patients with chronic lung disease, Klaphake said. When this type of rehab is added to a patient’s COPD treatment, it helps with decreased exacerbations and hospitalizations.

“The goal of this program is to treat and preserve optimal lung function by preventing symptoms and recurrence of exacerbations,” Klaphake said. “As a result, we improve function of daily living as well as quality of living. We offer education and encourage patients to actively participate in therapy.”

This therapy includes monitored exercise for increase endurance and strength. Education is big part of this ongoing therapy covering several topics aimed towards lung health and better living. We will cover breathing techniques, oxygen therapy, proper medication use and other topics to help you stay healthy and active. You can expect to be seen in Pulmonary rehab 2 days a week for 8-12 weeks followed by an independent program.

Conditions treated by pulmonary rehab include:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Asthma
  • Lung Cancer
  • Pre and post lung transplant
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis
  • Post COVID-19
  • Pulmonary Hypertension

To take advantage of these services, patients will need a referral from their primary care provider and a pulmonary function test.

“I know that there are many patients out there who will benefit from these services,” Klaphake said. “This will give them a better quality of life.”