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One Man's Life in the E.R.

Published: Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Updated: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 15:10

The office appeared as devoid of personal affects as a doctor's examination room. It may have been a reflection of his profession's aseptic work world, or just that the building was brand new. On one solitary wall, in contrast to the almost sterile ambiance, were photos of Valley College respiratory therapy graduating classes, spanning a time period of more than 30 years.

Greg Morrison, chairman of Valley's respiratory therapy department was the director of the respiratory therapy department at St. John's hospital in Oxnard from 1994, until he began teaching full-time at Valley in 2004.

"A respiratory therapist helps care for the sickest of the sick," said Morrison.

Morrision's respiratory therapy career spans 30 years, beginning when he graduated Valley in the late 1970s. He now teaches at Valley during the week and on weekends he can be found in St. John's hospital emergency room, where he practices what he teaches.

"His teaching is thorough and attentive, yet exciting," said Valley respiratory therapy student Aaron Clute. "His teaching is all relatable to real world experiences and providing better patient care."

Working in the E.R. at St. John's hospital has been particularly busy this year according to Morrison.

"We started seeing flu cases in the summer, instead of in the fall when flu season normally begins," he said.

One of the most common tools of the respiratory therapist is the ventilator, a device that assists a patient's breathing. The ventilator is used until the patient's lungs are well enough to function on their own.

"It's a form of life support for a person who can't breath independently," said Morrison.

Being a respiratory therapist is a challenging profession, requiring as much education as a registered nurse, according to Morrison.

"Valley's respiratory therapy program is one of the best," said Morrison.

Morrison would like to see all people better educated about their health and their health care needs so that ER facilities are not used to take care of so many people who plan their lives poorly.

"Many people are using ER's like clinics," said Morrison. "They go about their usual lifestyle until they get sick. When their lifestyles fall apart, they head for the ER. Public awareness of health care issues, especially preventative measures, needs to be raised."

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