PITTSBURGH-The Community College of Allegheny County's
Respiratory Therapy program students will apply their skills and
training at area hospitals this weekend to help prevent chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)-the third leading cause of
death in the U.S.-from advancing among area residents.
Approximately 15 students from CCAC's Allegheny Campus will
volunteer at six Allegheny Health Network (AHN) hospitals that are
recognizing National COPD Day on Saturday, Nov. 11, from 12:00 p.m.
to 2:00 p.m. Students will assist with providing education and
screenings, including pulmonary function testing. In addition, the
sites will offer flu vaccinations, inhaler instruction and
information on smoking cessation and home health care.
COPD is on the rise worldwide and particularly in Southwestern
Pennsylvania. It is most prevalent in the growing elderly
population, although the disease is often underdiagnosed, according
to Richard Laurent, coordinator of the CCAC Respiratory Therapy
program and department chair, Allied Health. COPD is also a big
issue locally due to the history of coal mining and steel mills in
the region, which can continue to have damaging effects on
individuals who lived through that era, said John Smith, AHN senior
clinical program manager, Pulmonary, who is leading the event.
Anyone who smokes is also at greater risk of developing the
disease. COPD Day is designed to raise awareness, as well as help
individuals who have breathing problems or potential issues. Smith
enlisted the assistance of Laurent and the CCAC students to support
"I thought it would be a good opportunity for the students
to get out into the community and see how therapists interact with
their patients in this setting. This is a very valuable part of
their education, and it also gives them the opportunity to
volunteer," said Smith, who studied under Laurent in the
1980s. "Richard was a great mentor. He's always very supportive
of the students, making sure they get what they need to be prepared
AHN hospitals participating in COPD Day on Saturday, Nov. 11,
are: Allegheny Valley Hospital, Canonsburg Hospital, Forbes
Hospital, Jefferson Hospital, Saint Vincent Hospital and Wexford
Health + Wellness Pavilion. West Penn Hospital will participate on
Thursday, Nov. 16, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
For more information, visit: ahn.org/2017-copd-day.
To learn more about CCAC's Respiratory Therapy program, visit ccac.edu/Respiratory_Therapy_Page.aspx.