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Her efforts provide the breath of life for her patients

Respiratory therapist Bridget Hamilton heads the new pulmonary rehabilitation program for outpatients at St. Mary’s Health Center.

Respiratory therapist Bridget Hamilton heads the new pulmonary rehabilitation program for outpatients at St. Mary’s Health Center. Photo by Kelley McCall.

As a respiratory therapist, Bridget Hamilton is just one part of the overall health care team and that is just how she likes it.

Serving St. Mary’s Health Center as the pulmonary rehabilitation coordinator allows her to see the progress of her patients, which is one reason she chose the field.

In ninth grade, Hamilton knew she wanted to do something in the medical field. A family friend was a respiratory therapist and, after looking into the career, she was hooked.

“My goal when I went into health care was to improve patients’ quality of life,” she said.

“I wanted to make people feel better and I know I have helped them achieve that.”

Hamilton earned her degree from the University of Nebraska-Kearney. She graduated with a bachelors in respiratory therapy and a minor in biology. Her goal when working with patients on a day-today basis in the pulmonary clinic is to see the progress they make, and that is something she loves.

“My overall goal is to help them improve their overall quality of life,” she said.

“When I see them improving and doing things that a few days or weeks ago they could not. It is good to hear them say they feel better. I love that.”

As part of the hospital’s health care team, Hamilton said many would be surprised to know that respiratory therapists are in charge of working with all ventilator patients in the hospital, along with children admitted with RSV, patients with obstructive sleep apnea, COPD, asthma and other breathing problems. Therapists are also on hand to help newborns with breathing problems.

While she loves her role, Hamilton said she would go back to school to become a physician if she could.

Hamilton is a member of the Missouri Society for Respiratory Care, currently serving as secretary of District Three. She is also a member of the American Association for Respiratory Care and the National Board for Respiratory Care. Respiratory therapists are licensed medical professionals.

She and husband, Denny, spend much of their time with daughters Reese, Raygan and Flynn at soccer games and enjoying time at the Lake of the Ozarks.

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