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Adopt-a-Company Going Strong

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September 16, 2011

The DRIVE4COPD Adopt-a-Company campaign launched by the AARC earlier this year is in full swing, with members all across the country taking advantage of the opportunity it is giving them to bring COPD screening and education to businesses and organizations in their communities.

Building momentum

For Helen Sorenson, MA, RRT, FAARC, associate professor in the department of respiratory care at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, and her students, that’s meant hosting a DRIVE booth at the recent VFW national convention that took place in their city at the end of August and also partnering with Leon Valley Community Center in Leon Valley, TX, to spread the DRIVE message at their first ever health fair.

Helen Sorenson (top left) and her students from the UT Health Sciences Center at San Antonio attended a 4-day national convention for the VFW.

The group screened nearly 400 people at the VFW event and another 30 at the health fair. They also provided lots of great information on COPD and lung disease in general—particularly at the VFW event, where many of the folks who came by the booth said they already had a diagnosis of COPD.

“The students had just completed a three semester hour course on PFTs so were eager to try testing on real patients,” says the AARC member. “They came away with a much greater understanding of the need for PFTs and the importance of good coaching.”

Helen Sorenson with VFW State Surgeon, Doc Howard.

They also appreciated the chance the event gave them to practice their real world patient interaction skills. “Early in the day, the students discovered that some individuals who had screened with a score of five or more just tended to wander away,” explains their professor. “So after that, they actually escorted them to the COPD Foundation booth to get their pulmonary function testing done—the vets really enjoyed the special attention they got from the students, and vice-versa!”

Now Sorenson and her students plans to keep the momentum they developed through their first two events going. In October, they’ll be traveling to the University of Texas in Austin for another round of screening, testing, and education with employees there.

CEO buy-in

Adopt-a-Company initiatives are taking off at Newman Regional Health up in Emporia, KS, too, where Karen Schell, MHSc, RRT-NPS, RPFT, and her colleagues recently got the ball rolling by adopting their own hospital.

“We had our CEO buy into the project when Adopt-a-Company came out,” explains the AARC member. “I went to him with a plan and sold him on the benefits of public relations, customer service, and educating the public through exposure.”

Karen Schell and her colleagues at Newman Regional Medical Center kicked off their Adopt-A-Company offerings with a campaign at their own hospital.

Not only did he okay the campaign but also approved the purchase of new spirometers to use in the testing, along with special shirts for the RTs (the sleeve says “COPD” while the back reads “RESPIRATORY THERAPIST), handouts, and recyclable grocery bags, which are given out to everyone who agrees to be screened.

“We’ve had a very good response so far,” says Schell. “Only a couple of employees have refused, and we suspect they are smokers and already know their lung shape.” The majority seem to be enjoying the screening process. Schell says a crowd often gathers around when the RTs come calling, and everyone gets a kick out of their instructions to “blow, blow, blow” on the spirometry test.

Always proud to be an RT, proclaims Karen (and her shirt)!

Schell and her group believe that by bringing the campaign to their own hospital first, they’ll have more clout when they take the concept out into the community. “We will show them that we did it and are practicing what we preach.”

It appears to be working. The Newman Regional RTs already have another company lined up to take part in the initiative, and they’ve also worked out a deal to host a DRIVE booth at a senior health fair in October. As they did last year, they’ll be handing out screeners at the hospital’s Flu Shot Drive By coming up at the end of this month too.

Want to read more about what Sorenson, Schell, and other RTs are doing to bring COPD screening and education to their communities? Stay tuned to your November issue of AARC Times for a more in-depth look.