Joan Norell

Registered Respiratory Therapist
Westside Regional Medical Center

“I’ve been a respiratory therapist for 45 years, and I’ve spent seven of those years here at Westside Regional Medical Center. As respiratory therapists, we take care of anything related to the lungs. We take care of people that have pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis and just overall, respiratory disorders. We help our patients breathe easier. It sounds simple, but without breathing, there is no living. The coronavirus has really changed things. It’s definitely scary. We are on the frontlines and in the ER fighting this battle alongside the nurses and doctors. We are a part of the code blues and rapid responses. Anyone that walks into our ER at this point, we need to be ready for. I feel very confident in our team here at Westside. We are here 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We need to trust each other, because without trust this wouldn’t be possible. We have one teammate who could be sitting in an isolation room with a positive patient and a ventilator, while the other teammate is preparing for the next patient. We need to trust that we will each do our part. We are a big part of saving these patients lives and yes, it’s rewarding, but it’s also very scary. We all have someone we are coming home to in the end of the day. My twin sister has asthma, my brother has sarcoidosis and my husband of 37 years has COPD. Being a respiratory therapist, I know how dangerous it could be if one of them were to catch the coronavirus. I have to be extremely careful every time I come home. Yes, it’s scary but this is what I signed up for 45 years ago and it’s all I’ve ever known. Every time I care for a patient, I care for them as if they were my husband, brother or sister. Although I really need to be careful for myself and those around me, I would never abandon my patients. They need us now more than ever. So I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m going to be smart and safe. That’s all any of us can do right now.”