610-378-2000 610-378-2000

About Respiratory Care

The primary goal of the Respiratory Care Department at Penn State Health St. Joseph is to provide the highest quality care to our patients. This care is provided by our team of dedicated health care professionals through the use of modern technological advances and old-fashioned kindness and compassionate bedside manner. Our Respiratory Therapists work under the direction of highly trained and experienced pulmonary physicians to deliver the care that you and your friends and family need. If you have questions regarding our services, please feel free to contact the department directly at 610-378-2155 610-378-2155.

Respiratory Therapists

Breathing is something that most of us take for granted. We breathe without thinking much about the process. However, for those with lung disease, breathing is or can be hard work. Every breath can be difficult and every breath can be hard work. To those individuals, a respiratory therapist can be a life-saver!

A Respiratory Therapist is an educated and highly trained member of the health care team dedicated to bringing relief to those who suffer from heart and lung disorders. Whether dealing with a baby that is born too soon and has not developed lungs mature enough to breathe on their own, or the patient who has emphysema from smoking for all of their adult life, a respiratory therapist will work compassionately to treat and care for them during their times of crisis. A respiratory therapist works in all facets of health care. They can be found working in the delivery room, emergency department, critical care, outpatient diagnostics, rehabilitation, sleep laboratory, and medical-surgical areas.

A Respiratory Therapist usually has a two year or four year degree from an accredited college or university. Penn State Health St. Joseph is one of the primary clinical sites for students attending the respiratory care program at Reading Area Community College www.racc.edu.

Critical Care

Respiratory Therapists work side by side with the nurses in our critical care unit. Our Pulmonary team works under the direction of the physicians in the management of pulmonary care. Our therapists are a vital component to the open heart surgery program. We will care for the patient before surgery with education of our patients and families as to what is to be expected during and after the surgical event. Our team of experts will manage the “breathing machine” immediately after surgery and will care for the patient to see that the best care is given up to the point that they go home.

Neonatal/Pediatric Care

We are very proud of our Maternal-Child Care Unit here at Penn State Health St. Joseph. Our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is comprised of a devoted team of nurses and respiratory therapists under the direction of our neonatologist Dr. Pearl Pakdi. We have taken the mission of our NICU into our hearts. Respiratory Therapists responds to and are present at all high risk deliveries and cesarean sections. Our highly trained therapists provide airway assessment and possible subsequent ventilatory support from the moment your baby is born. Therapies such as nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and other forms ventilatory needs are provided in this level two nursery, thus providing the best possible pulmonary and medical care possible for your family.

This compassionate, caring environment is extended to our Pediatric Unit where infants and children are found with respiratory problems. Children with asthma or other pulmonary difficulties are provided with state of the art technology and treatment.

Conditions & Treatment

Pulmonary Function Testing

Our state of the art and accredited testing laboratory is able to offer the best in diagnostic testing to both inpatients as well as outpatients. The goals of the laboratory are directed at determining the physiologic causes for the patient’s pulmonary symptoms. Once this diagnosis is made, patients may return to the laboratory at the physician’s request to have follow-up studies performed to monitor the effects of pulmonary disease and/or the effects of treatment. Pulmonary testing may be used to evaluate and document the usefulness of some therapeutic treatments. Testing is also instrumental in evaluating the effectiveness of pulmonary rehabilitation.


Bronchoscopy is a method by which a Pulmonary Physician is able to exam the “inside” of the lung in order to diagnose certain lung disorders. This procedure is done under sedation so that the patient is comfortable and relaxed. Our therapists assist the physician during this procedure and remain with the patient during the recovery phase. This procedure allows for very small tissue samples to be sent to the laboratory for further diagnostic purposes. This is done as an out-patient and the patient is able to go home the same day. Families are encouraged to accompany the patient to and from the procedure and wait in our pleasant waiting room. Most times the procedure takes no more than an hour to complete.

Arterial Blood Gas

There are times when a physician wants to evaluate how well a patient is breathing. One way to do this is through an Arterial Blood Gas (ABG). This is very different from the routine blood work that is commonly ordered. Our respiratory therapists pride themselves in performing these blood tests quickly and accurately. Results of this test are obtained immediately and will be forwarded to the ordering physician while the patient is still in our department.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation

The Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program is a 2-3 month program designed to assist the patient and their families in improving their lifestyle by learning new behaviors and increasing their physical endurance through education and exercise. The first of its kind in Berks County, this program is geared to helping people suffering from lung disorders such as asthma, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and interstitial lung disease.

Our program is the only program in Berks County to offer extensive cardiac and pulmonary monitoring during the exercise component of the program. The program is offered in a comfortable environment with individual attention.

The Outpatient Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program is located at:
Medical Office Building (attached to Penn State Health St. Joseph)
2494 Bernville Rd., Suite 103
Reading PA
610-378-2659 610-378-2659
Click here for more information.

Low Dose CT Lung Cancer Screening

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the US and worldwide. About 85% of lung cancer occurs in current or former cigarette smokers. Lung cancer screening examinations are tests performed to find disease before symptoms begin, when disease processes are at an early and most treatable stage. A Low Dose CT Scan of the chest is the screening tool used to evaluate individuals who have a high risk of developing lung cancer but no signs or symptoms of the disease. The amount of radiation used for this screening examination is comparable to that of a mammogram. In a national trial of 55,000 smokers, this annual screening exam has shown to save lives.

Learn more and see if you’re eligible for this free screening

The Multidisciplinary Lung Clinic

We at St. Joseph have found that the most effective and efficient treatment for patients with an abnormal lung finding via Chest X-Ray or CT Scan is through a multidisciplinary approach. This means that specialized physicians from different medical areas of expertise work together as a team to determine the best treatment plan for you. Our goal is to work with you as soon as an abnormal finding is discovered in your lungs and fast-track you to a treatment plan.

Learn more here

Awards & Accreditations

College of American Pathologists (CAP) Laboratory Accreditation

Penn State Health’s state of the art testing laboratory is able to offer the best in diagnostic testing to both inpatients as well as outpatients. It has been accredited by the College of American Pathologists.

The College of American Pathologists (CAP’s) Laboratory Accreditation Program accredits the entire spectrum of laboratory test disciplines with the most scientifically rigorous customized checklist requirements.

The CAP’s peer-based inspector model provides a unique balance of regulatory and educational coaching supported by the most respected worldwide pathology organization.

Find a Respiratory Care Specialists

Click Here for Pulmonary Critical Care Medicine Providers

Click here for more information on our Pulmonary Rehab