Ang Low and Respiratory Therapists Play a Critical Role in Covid-19 Pandemic Response at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton

Ang LowThe careful, skilled monitoring by respiratory therapists, trained to identify changes in condition in order to regulate breathing, ensures the survival of many patients. They work quietly as an integral part of a hospital’s patient care team. The COVID-19 pandemic abruptly and dramatically changed that. Commonly, COVID-19 attacks a patient’s lungs, making it difficult - if not impossible - for them to breathe on their own. With so many patients in need of respiratory therapy expertise and support during the first COVID-19 surge, respiratory therapists were thrust to the forefront, now a clearly visible and crucial weapon in the fight against that virus.

At Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Hamilton, Ang Low, Supervisor, Respiratory Care, has been a respiratory therapist for more than two decades. During the first surge of COVID-19, his leadership served as a beacon for his team, bringing stability, clarity and confidence during a tumultuous and uncertain time.

Long hours, difficult work, the emotional toll of times like these inevitably affect every patient care provider, every therapist. But Ang never wavered in his dedication to his patients or his team. Through it all, he guided and supported his team, and worked side-by-side with them, while they placed themselves, literally, at the front line of the battle with coronavirus.

Most of the procedures respiratory therapists perform occur at the head of the patient's bed, putting them at high-risk for infection. “Everything we do aerosolizes [the virus],” Ang says. “Those airborne coronavirus particles and droplets in the air spread the disease to others, if they’re not properly protected.” That is why he collaborated with hospital leadership, infectious disease specialists, and supply chain team members to ensure the respiratory therapy team had the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) according to the regularly changing knowledge about COVID-19 and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

RWJUH Hamilton’s patients never lacked the equipment they needed to breathe, either. While some hospitals across the country faced ventilator shortages, Ang’s collaboration with care teams, bioclinical engineering, and supply chain teams ensured that the right supplies and equipment were at the ready for patients who needed them. During the first COVID-19 surge, Ang’s efforts contributed to the care of hundreds of COVID-19 patients - and other patients with conditions requiring respiratory therapy – as well as hundreds of positive patient outcomes.

According to Ang, one of the biggest challenges is staying abreast of the information, which changes daily, in order to protect the staff, patients and community members from contracting the virus. Ang and the RWJUH Hamilton team of respiratory therapists are well-trained, experienced professionals who provide excellent respiratory care and treatments under normal circumstances. And though these are not typical times, Ang and his team have risen to the challenge. Thank you to Ang and his team for their tireless efforts on behalf of our patients, all of the time!