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Respiratory Care Services (Pulmonary)

The primary goal of the Respiratory Care Department at Saint Joseph Medical Center 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.

Pulmonary Function Testing

Our state of the art testing laboratory is able to offer the best in diagnostic testing to both in patients as well as out patients. 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.

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. Saint Joseph Medical Center is one of the primary clinical sites for students attending the respiratory care program at Reading Area Community College www.racc.edu. There are approximately 16 respiratory care programs throughout the state of Pennsylvania. For more information regarding these programs, click on www.psrc.net and look under the heading of schools.

Diagnosis of Pulmonary Disorders


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. Our laboratory, located conveniently in our department, is accredited by the College of American Pathologists. During our rigorous inspection process, we receive accolades for our attention to detail and the outcomes we produce.

Pulmonary Care

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 St. Joseph Medical Center. 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.

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

You may contact us in the Respiratory Care Department at 610-378-2155.