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The unsung hero of the coronavirus pandemic: respiratory therapists

It's their job to draw blood to determine how a patient is breathing and make the changes in the ventilator bringing life support.
Credit: Doctor's Medical Center
Kayla Morton and her team of respiratory therapists sport new headbands made by Morton to protect their ears while wearing masks for 12 hour shifts.

MODESTO, Calif. — While covering the coronavirus pandemic, ABC10 has been sharing stories of doctors and nurses on the front lines fighting the invisible enemy. But there's one hospital worker we haven't heard much from: The respiratory therapist.

"You honestly can't go through a respiratory pandemic without having a respiratory therapist," Kayla Morton, a respiratory care practitioner at Doctor's Medical Center in Modesto said.

Morton added, "We are on the front lines, it is a respiratory virus, we know this. "it starts in the lungs and that's where it attacks first so who is your main advocate for the lungs? It's the [respiratory therapists]"

Morton has been a respiratory care practitioner for about six years now.

It's her job to draw blood to determine how a patient is breathing, report those findings to a doctor and make the changes in the ventilator bringing life support.

She's often juggling multiple patients at a time, coronavirus or not.

"These ventilators that everyone's talking about on the news, that's our job," Morton said. "Our job is to be at the bedside, we manage those ventilators, we're the ones that make changes on those ventilators for the patient."

She says although she's working 12-hour shifts four to five days a week, and there may be some different safety protocols in place, her job and the reason she got into it, remains the same.

"I'm doing this job, because I love healthcare," Morton said. "I want to be in it. I want to help people, so although being tired is not very fun, it's just a joy to be able to help people and to be able to be there in the toughest of times."

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Lena Howland.

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WATCH MORE: Governor Newsom gives an update on California's response to coronavirus | April 17, 2020