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UHart

UHart Loans Ventilators to Hartford Hospital for COVID-19 Patients

April 28, 2020
ventilator in simulation lab
This Puritan Bennett 840 ventilator was one of three ventilators loaned to Hartford Hospital from the University of Hartford's respiratory care lab.

The University of Hartford loaned three much-needed ventilators to Hartford Hospital in early April to help critically ill COVID-19 patients receive the care they need. These ventilators are typically housed in labs in the College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions, where students in the respiratory care program train to become respiratory therapists. Now that classes are being held remotely, the hospital is able to use the ventilators for patient care.

UHart answered the call for ventilators to address concerns from Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and state health officials that the number of ventilators in the state wouldn’t be enough to handle a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases.

Ventilators are crucial to treating critically ill patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, explains Assistant Professor Karen Griffiths, the director of the University’s respiratory care program.

“Ventilators are breathing machines that help keep patients alive when they can’t breathe on their own,” Griffiths explains. “COVID-19 attacks the lungs and the respiratory system. Some patients with COVID-19 can’t sustain normal respiratory function, so they require intubation and mechanical ventilation.”

Ventilators are breathing machines that help keep patients alive when they can’t breathe on their own. COVID-19 attacks the lungs and the respiratory system. Some patients with COVID-19 can’t sustain normal respiratory function, so they require intubation and mechanical ventilation.”

Karen Griffiths, Program Director, Respiratory Care

Respiratory therapists are always crucial in a hospital setting, but they are truly on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19. They are experts in cardio-pulmonary care and in the art and science of mechanical ventilation. They evaluate patients, calculate appropriate ventilator settings, conduct therapeutic procedures, and assemble and check all necessary equipment. In some states, respiratory therapists also are licensed to intubate patients.

The University of Hartford, which offers the only entry-level respiratory therapy bachelor’s degree program in New England, has alumni treating patients at such hospitals as Hartford Hospital, Yale-New Haven Hospital, Baystate Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital and others.

Due to a shortage of respiratory therapists during the pandemic, Governor Lamont issued an executive order to allow respiratory therapy students to work under the supervision of a licensed respiratory therapist. In addition, the national accreditation body for Respiratory Care programs issued temporary changes to their accrediting guidelines that allow students to complete clinical requirements while working during the pandemic. Several students who are expected to graduate in September have been hired to work as student respiratory therapists in hospitals so they can continue their clinical work and contribute during this challenging time.

”Students want to continue their clinical internships,” says Griffiths. “Their mentality is ‘this is what we’re trained to do,’ and they want to get out there and start helping the patients.”

The job outlook for respiratory therapists is strong. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs for respiratory therapists will grow 21 percent by 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. It is a fast-paced, rewarding profession that combines advanced technology with compassionate care of people with breathing disorders. To learn more about the University of Hartford’s respiratory care degree program, please visit our website.

For Media Inquiries

Meagan Fazio
860.768.4330