COVID-19 is keeping health providers busy across the nation. Respiratory Therapists are an essential part of that team. They work to help keep patients breathing through various equipment they are specifically trained on.

One of the providers who is trying to make sure COVID patients are breathing when they are hospitalized on a medical floor or in the ICU is William Terry Schoolfield. He’s a Respiratory Therapist and started his career at CCMH back in 1992. He said he began as a tech and worked his way up to becoming a registered Respiratory Therapist. Now, he’s back where it all started as the Respiratory Manager.

While he’s only been back a little while, he knows this pandemic hasn’t been easy on anyone.

“This has been very hard for Respiratory because we’re throwing everything we have at this disease, and sometimes it feels like we’re not winning this war,” Schoolfield said. “It’s hard.”

He said there are several levels of equipment that can be used to assist patients breathing if needed. Ventilators are being used more now because of critical COVID patients.

“Luckily, we have never ran out of equipment,” Schoolfield said. “Administration has been amazing at getting us what we need to take care of our patients here.”

Schoolfield said the pandemic increased their workload tremendously. As before, they’d mostly take care of chronic patients, but now they’re mostly taking care of more critical patients.

“We’re holding patients in the Emergency Room because we don’t even have beds in the Intensive Care,” he said. “So we hold them down there, and they’re on the ventilators in the Emergency Room, and it’s just been really stressful.”

Schoolfield encourages those interested in Respiratory Therapy to look into it further as there’s an RT school in Lawton.