When illness or injury affects your ability to breathe, it can be a medical emergency. In the intensive care units at McLaren Bay Region, ventilators, or breathing machines, can temporarily take over the breathing function for patients who have the most severe breathing problems. Most of us will not need such drastic intervention, but at McLaren Bay Region, the Pulmonary Medicine Program is helping many patients to breathe easier.
Pulmonologists The heart of our program includes pulmonologists, physicians who specialize in pulmonary medicine. Pulmonologists take care of patients with lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, pneumonia, and lung cancer.
In order to determine the proper diagnosis, physicians may order a chest x- ray, a pulmonary function test, or a pulmonary stress test. Conducted with state-of-the-art equipment,the pulmonary function test measures both the volume and the flow of air into and out of the lungs. Data are then compared with predicted norms for your age, height, weight, and sex. Pulmonary function tests may be ordered before surgery for a person with a chronic pulmonary disease. They may also be useful in monitoring patients who may be on medications that can affect pulmonary function.
A pulmonary stress test involves exercising on a stationary bicycle. A device held in the mouth collects all exhaled gases, which are then analyzed. The effort required to pedal may be increased, which increases the patient’s exertion. The patient is attached to an EKG (heart) monitor during the test and blood may be taken before, during, and after exercise.
Another test that can be valuable in diagnosing or treating patients with breathing difficulties, is a bronchoscopy. This procedure takes place in the hospital. Patients are lightly sedated and a small tube is inserted through the nose, down into the windpipe and into the lung. A small camera on the end of the scope allows us to see the lung from the inside. Tissue samples can be taken for examination under the microscope, and it is even possible to do some treatments through the bronchoscope.
In the hospital setting, respiratory care takes on many faces. In addition to monitoring and managing ventilator patients in the critical care units, respiratory therapists respond to all emergency codes, where a patient is experiencing a life-threatening event. They also report to the emergency room to help establish an airway for patients with trauma, and they are involved with every patient who needs an oxygen-giving device. Anywhere in the hospital where there is a patient with breathing difficulties, or potential problems, you will find a respiratory therapist.
Respiratory therapists also administer breathing treatments that may open airways, or reduce secretions. They also teach post-surgical patients how to keep their lungs clear by using an incentive spirometer, a device which encourages deep breathing. You’ll even find respiratory therapists in the sleep lab, where patients are checked for breathing difficulties during sleep.
Sleep Disorders Center
Medical Director: John M. Buday, MD
Diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders is another program offered through pulmonary medicine, in conjunction with neurological specialists. For more information about McLaren Bay Region's accredited sleep center, click here.
The Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programtakes place at the Center for Rehabilitation on McLaren Bay Region’s West Campus. Patients with chronic lung diseases improve their strength and endurance through monitored exercise. The program also includes education about managing the activities of daily living despite the limitations imposed by the disease. Goals are set with the patient, family, and therapist. For example, some patients want to be able to golf again or go fishing. These goals can often be met when muscle strength and endurance are regained. The goal of the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program is to be able to progress the patient to 30 minutes of continuous exercise of the lower body (walking or bicycling) and 20 minutes of upper body exercise (arm bike or arm exercises).
Another important part of pulmonary rehabilitation is the opportunity for socialization and bonding with others who share the same problems. People can learn from each other and regain their optimism in spite of having a debilitating and chronic condition.
Patients with chronic lung disease often need the support of home medical equipment such as oxygen concentrators, portable oxygen tanks, medication nebulizers, and continuous positive airway pressure (C-PAP) machines that help keep airways open during sleep.
McLaren Home Medical, with locations in the Medical Mall and Allen Medical Building, has a complete selection of products and services to support the home patient, including lightweight portable oxygen systems, and a portable ultrasonic nebulizer that delivers medication in microscopic particles.
When patients return home, respiratory therapists from MEC help them learn to be comfortable administering treatments for themselves.
Click here for a demonstration of the proper use of a capsul inhaler.
At each home visit, patients and their equipment are checked and written reports are given to the physician. An important part of managing a chronic breathing condition can be support from others who share the same problems and who have helpful solutions to share. Medical Equipment Center staff are active in the following respiratory disease support groups:
For further information, call (989) 895-4500.
- COPD Support Group
- C-Pap Support Group
- Asthma Support Group
COPD Clinical Trial
McLaren Bay Region’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program was selected as a satellite for the University of Michigan, which is participating in a national clinical trial that is being conducted to determine the effectiveness of lung reduction surgery as a treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It will also attempt to identify patients who are the best candidates for medical or surgical treatments. Patients accepted into the study at U of M can undergo pulmonary rehabilitation at McLaren Bay Region. Following rehabilitation, patients will be assigned either medical or surgical treatment, and will receive follow-up care.
For further information about this clinical trial, please talk to your personal physician.