SNF Spotlight

Respiratory therapy making a difference in nursing homes

For as long as he can remember Eric Harter always wanted to help people. He grew up to find his superpower in respiratory therapy. Today, as president of Rapid CPAP Supplies and Testing, Harter strives to make an impact on the world of respiratory care, particularly subacute care.  

Rapid CPAP is a full-service respiratory therapy company primarily serving skilled nursing and hospice patients. Harter has been a respiratory therapist for 20 years, which helps as he runs the business side of Rapid CPAP. “I’ve been involved in every part of our business and every part of the respiratory world.” 

Rapid CPAP provides respiratory services as well as DME and medical supplies. Harter says the quality of service they provide prevents patients from hospital readmission.“The typical nursing home is running around 20 percent of their respiratory patients going back to the hospital unnecessarily and our program runs around 2 percent. We’re dropping that readmission rate down significantly through our services,” says Harter. 

The impact of COVID on respiratory therapy 

COVID-19 has been a significant challenge for the skilled nursing industry–especially respiratory therapists. The virus spreads through respiratory droplets, so the job of these therapists has been particularly stressful. “It’s definitely thrown a wrench in what we do and how we do it. I think first off I would start with having to wear a mask all day. The N95 mask is very intrusive, and it makes it difficult to breathe,” says Harter. 

Rapid CPAP runs weekly COVID testing for the staff, and they have integrated negative pressure rooms for patients with COVID. Harter says, “We’re buying machines to create a negative pressure room so facilities are able to put patients in one wing of the facility. We’re taping off that whole wing, and we’re having separate staff over there as a precaution.” 

The staff has worked tirelessly as healthcare heroes. Harter says, “We have seen a lot of fatigue in terms of our staff members having to deal with this. And they are really heroes out there on the front lines, taking care of these patients. As we all know, nursing homes have been in many ways decimated with this virus, and it’s changed the nursing home world probably forever.” 

Though the changes haven’t been easy, the staff has worked to keep the residents safe and provide quality care. “Because of the PPE required, you can’t even see a smile anymore. During a recent meeting, I had to explain to everyone that I was smiling. The PPE makes it difficult to connect like we used to,” says Harter. 

Constant respiratory support is key 

For families looking into a nursing home with respiratory therapy, Harter says, “We all know that this virus is a respiratory virus, and what it’s doing is creating what we call a secretion problem, a lung problem, a breathing problem. And so as the family and patients are looking for a nursing facility that can support their respiratory needs, they want to make sure that the nursing facility has the necessary respiratory support.” 

He continues, “I like to say that the nursing home of today is the community hospital of yesteryear. Certainly, with PDPM, the nursing facilities are taking a much higher acute patient, and there’s no more immediate problem than a breathing problem.” 

For someone who needs respiratory support, having 24-hour care is a must.  

“If I was looking for a nursing facility for my loved one or myself, I would want to make sure that they have access to a respiratory therapist 24 hours a day–whether that’s someone in the building or respiratory telehealth–and also access to high-tech respiratory equipment.” 

Harter says skilled nursing homes are no longer just providing oxygen concentrators and maybe a CPAP or two for respiratory patients. Instead, they’re serving as sub-ICUs. “That’s what you want to make sure that they can handle your current status or if you get worse without unnecessarily sending you back to the hospital a bunch of times.” 

Attention to detail crucial to respiratory support 

What sets Rapid CPAP apart from other providers is being extra attentive to their patients’ needs. Harter says, “I love our company, I love what I do, I love our staff, I love how we operate and I love our customers. And the only way that I’ve gotten there is by listening to customers, listening to their pains, listening to their needs and listening to their issues.” 

“When you’re looking for a respiratory company, you want to choose one that is more interested in your needs than in telling you what they do,” says Harter.  

A motto for Harter is, “Consider the needs of your customer before yours and watch them beat a path to your door.” 

Rapid CPAP prides itself on being growth-oriented. Harter says, “We get patients seen right away. We’re always listening. We’re always wanting to grow and be adaptive and listen to the needs of the patients. The model that we’ve created is timeless in terms of having a medical equipment respiratory company that really is listening to the needs of the patient.” 

Find out more about Rapid CPAP here. 

 

 

 

 

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