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Statement in Response to the Erie County Legislature’s Resolution Supporting & Urging SUNY Erie to Conduct Respiratory Therapy Training for Nurses

Article by: Paula Sandy

Statement in Response to the Erie County Legislature’s Resolution Supporting & Urging SUNY Erie to Conduct Respiratory Therapy Training for Nurses

We have received a significant amount of feedback in response to the resolution approved by the Erie County Legislature on May 7, 2020 as well as the comments made by the legislator urging the College to conduct respiratory therapy training for nurses. It is important that we clarify several points that have been reported.

The College is supporting area hospitals in the fight against COVID-19 with loans of ventilators, other equipment and supplies.  We have reached out to the chief medical officers in the area to offer any in service training needed, but healthcare facilities and hospitals are handling those needs in house at this time.  We stand ready to assist in any way possible.

While the College was contacted by Legislator Vinal regarding a potential training program, SUNY Erie’s administration and faculty were not aware of the proposed resolution. As was reported to Legislator Vinal and WKBW-TV, SUNY Erie maintains regular communication with hospitals and healthcare facilities in the region, and consistently works with industry partners to develop any training required to meet their needs.

SUNY Erie’s goal is to train Respiratory Therapists, not technicians. Technicians are less credentialed and work under a therapist's license. Most clinical sites the College works with as well as most other area facilities require graduates to obtain the Registered Respiratory Therapist credential (RRT).

While we recognize a need for respiratory therapists in WNY and job projections for the next several years are extremely positive, we are currently unaware of a shortage of trained respiratory therapists in WNY. A similar need exists for nurses both locally and nationally as well. 

We also recognize the complexity of the equipment used by respiratory therapists, and the intensive training involved in preparing individuals for a successful career in the field. The setup, application, management and the ability to troubleshoot problems requires advanced skills and training. SUNY Erie’s Respiratory Care program consists of a full semester theory course, a full semester laboratory and considerable clinical time. Completion of these components helps to ensure the basic competency of our students. In addition to this training, graduates receive advanced equipment specific training upon hire.

We are extremely proud of our SUNY Erie alumni and healthcare workers on the front lines of this pandemic. The strength, desire, professionalism and ability of these individuals to adapt in these uncertain times is nothing short of remarkable.

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