Respiratory Care

Making a difference one breath at a time!

Being unable to catch your breath can be scary! The respiratory care practitioners at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital can help. In consultation with your physician, they provide life-saving technology and medications to ease your work of breathing. They will also teach you how to help prevent this from happening again!

The BMH respiratory care practitioners are licensed practitioners who are registered by the National Board for Respiratory Care. They are trained and certified in Advanced Adult and Pediatric Life Support as well as neonatal resuscitation. These “life support specialists” are on the hospital’s Code Blue and Rapid Response teams. All of the Respiratory Care staff are multi-skilled and are also trained to perform cardiology procedures.

In addition to responding to emergencies and administering medications, the Respiratory Care staff also provides pulmonary function tests. These measure the severity of lung disease and the response to medication, all aimed at improving your breathing.

A Methacholine or Bronchial Provocation (asthma test) is also available to assist in the diagnosis of asthma in children and adults. An arterial blood sample is often obtained to measure the oxygen level in the blood to help determine the need for home oxygen. To schedule an appointment call 802-275-3619.

Pulmonary function tests are a group of procedures that measure the function of the lungs, revealing problems in the way a patient breathes. The tests can determine the cause of shortness of breath and may help confirm lung diseases, such as asthma, bronchitis or emphysema. The tests also are performed before any major lung surgery to make sure the person won’t be disabled by having a reduced lung capacity. The patient should not eat a heavy meal before the test, nor smoke for four to six hours beforehand. The patient’s doctor will issue specific instructions about whether or not to use specific medications, including bronchodilators or inhalers, before the test. Sometimes, medication may be administered as part of the test.
When the physician assessing a patient is concerned that they might have asthma, first spirometry (breathing test) is performed. If the breathing test results are normal and no obstruction is identified further testing is sometimes required. A medication called methacholine is used to ‘provoke’ airway response. When the airways of people with asthma are exposed to this medication, it will stimulate a response, which can be measured. If there is a positive response, asthma can be clearly identified and treated appropriately. In most cases, methacholine challenge testing involves repeated FEV1 (forced expiratory volume) efforts at increasing levels of the drug. The sooner the patient reacts by a 20% reduction in their FEV1 compared to room air (normal) conditions the more likely their prevalence to asthma.
  • Tobacco Cessation Program – Helping people to quit smoking is a focus in the BMH Respiratory Care Department.   Tobacco treatment programs are held throughout the year and have helped many smokers quit. To learn more about the BMH Tobacco Treatment Program, call 802-251-8456.
  • The BMH Respiratory Care Department works hand-in-hand with BMH cardiologists. For more on the care of cardiac patients at BMH, click here.