RTs plan to clear the air in Peru
With an asthma rate that has been called one of the highest in the world, the need exists for respiratory technologists (RT) in Peru.
And, if all things go as planned, seven Thompson Rivers University students in that health discipline will spend two weeks in Peru, doing their part to make an impact on the breathing-related maladies that affect residents.
The seven students, along with a professor and a clinical psychologist from B.C. Children’s Hospital, hope to head to the South American country in May.
It’s the third time TRU has sent RT students there, said Les Matthews, an associate professor in the faculty of science and the director of the university’s Centre for Respiratory Health and Sleep Science.
Last year, the group that went took three continuous positive-
airway pressure machines (CPAPs).
This year, they will be travelling with about 20 machines.
They plan to teach staff at hospitals how to use them, then leave them behind for treating Peruvians.
Matthews said the machines are older-technology models that were donated by medical-supply companies.
“People want the newest and the best, so these are older models they can’t do anything with,” he said.
“And they’re usually brand new, just older technology.”
Student Sue Grewal said the group will also do asthma clinics and work on sleep-apnea and other respiratory and ventilation issues with people.
They are developing a pamphlet on breathing diseases — chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder is also prevalent — and plan to have it translated to Spanish and distributed when they get to their destination.
Right now, the group is working on funding, with only about half of the estimated $21,000 needed for the trip collected.
Grewal is optimistic they will be successful and is looking forward to the trip.
She was also on the 2012 expedition.
Matthews said the students gain much during their time in Peru.
They not only get to put into practice their studies and see tangible results, but they are exposed to another culture — and another health-care system.
While many Peruvian hospitals are well-equipped, he said, those in the rural areas are not.
“It’s hard when you’re trying to work in an environment with such limited resources,” Matthews said.