April 2, 2020
Shari Hymes, RRT has been a respiratory therapist for over 35 years. She, like most Americans, has never seen anything like the COVID-19 pandemic in all of her years in the field.
“I never thought I’d experience anything like this in my lifetime,” Shari says. “We’ve had really bad flu seasons, but nothing like this.”
This sentiment is shared by most members of our community, all of whom have been affected in some way by this virus. With everyone feeling the effects of the pandemic, there’s an equally palpable sense of community that has blossomed across the North Fork in light of the crisis.
Shari is one of the many incredible individuals contributing to this outpouring of kindness. She has stepped up to purchase a $10,000 High Velocity Nasal Insufflation (Hi-VNI®) system from a company called Vapotherm® for Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital (SBELIH).
“All of our staff—and I mean all of us—are working extraordinarily hard to keep themselves, their patients, and this community safe during this unprecedented time,” says Paul J. Connor III, Chief Administrative Officer of Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital. “Shari is going above and beyond the call of duty here; she’s one of the many modern-day heroes that make me so proud to be part of this incredible staff.”
“Everyone’s hearing about ventilators, and we still do need more ventilators,” says Shari. But with this Vapotherm® system, “we’ll have an extra option; we don’t have to go right to intubation.”
Traditionally, when patients with respiratory illness need assistance to breathe, there are multiple respiratory care options to exhaust before physicians resort to intubation and use of a ventilator. These care options include treatment using nebulizers, high flow nasal cannulas, and bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machines. However, these modalities come with a high risk of airborne transmissions to healthcare workers.
“Vapotherm high velocity therapy provides mask-free non-invasive ventilatory support,” according to the product’s website. “High velocity/high flow therapy, when properly fitted and applied, is associated with a low risk of airborne transmissions.”
Shari originally heard about this technology at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital (SBSH). As an employee of both SBELIH and SBSH, she has already seen the positive effects of this piece of equipment first-hand on the South Fork, where they’re already treating COVID patients with this system.
“It’s a lot more comfortable for the patient as it allows them to sit up in bed and eat, which they couldn’t do while intubated,” she says. “It doesn’t take up a lot of room, and it’s safer for our healthcare workers.”
So many thoughtful people are asking how they can aid local healthcare workers and hospitals in this time of crisis. SBELIH has already received many generous donations of supplies, funds, and meals for staff. The ELIH Foundation has started the COVID-19 Action Fund in light of the pandemic to fund critical staff, supplies, and bed overflow capacity in the event of a patient surge. With each new initiative and call to action, the community has answered.
“I’ve never seen such a sense of community as I do throughout the North Fork,” says Shari. “There’s so much we can do; we can all do this.”
For more information about the Vapotherm® High Velocity Nasal Insufflation (Hi-VNI®) system, visit their website. For more information about how you can support Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital and the ELIH Foundation, please call the Foundation Office at (631) 477-5164 or email email@example.com.