Breath of fresh air
Home medical services keep COPD patient comfortable — and out of the hospital
Tom Glendenning started his first job as a railroad worker at the age of 16. His work required him to have direct contact with asbestos, then commonly used as a flame retardant, that protected train cars from sparks flying off the wheels. He eventually took up smoking, and later worked on dusty construction projects and at a chemical plant for 18 years.
He finally retired 16 years ago from his job as a maintenance coordinator for the juvenile detention department in Sedgwick County.
Tom Glendenning has been able to remain in the comfort of his own home — and out of the hospital — because of the respiratory services he receives from Via Christi Home Medical. His respiratory therapist, Dani VanArsdale, visits him at his home on a monthly basis.
“I had a lot of different jobs,” he says. “If you have a family to support, you do what you have to do.”
Shortly after retirement, Tom noticed he was having trouble breathing. After many tests and doctor visits, he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, a common debilitating lung disease.
“The doctors told me I was sick because of a combination of several things: the asbestos, the chemicals, the dust when I worked in construction — and smoking,” he says.
Doctors informed Tom and his wife, Sandy, that his condition was irreversible and that his lungs would get worse over time. To help him breathe, he would need to use oxygen.
Now Tom receives oxygen on a monthly basis from Terry Duncan, a Via Christi Home Medical delivery technician, and check-ups from Dani VanArsdale, a registered respiratory therapist, also with Via Christi.
“I bonded with them the moment they came to my home. They’re like adopted members of our family,” Tom says.
“They call me up and ask me how I’m doing and if I need anything. It’s the personal touches that make a difference.”
His respiratory therapist agrees.
“I see my patients every month, which helps me better see changes in their health and get to know them on a personal level,” says Dani. “I feel like I’m in tune with them and I want to do all I can to help them live the best quality of life with their disease.”
One night about five years ago, Tom stopped breathing while he slept. Carbon dioxide had built up in his lungs. His wife called 911 and he was rushed to the hospital. After the scare, his doctor had him begin using a ventilator overnight to keep his carbon dioxide level at a normal range. The ventilator is maintained monthly by his Via Christi Home Medical respiratory therapist.
“The ventilator has helped keep Tom’s lungs from deteriorating to the point that he can’t do anything,” says Dani. “Because he uses it at night, he’s still mobile and he can enjoy his family where he’s most comfortable.”
“The ventilator lets me stay home and enjoy my wife’s cooking,” Tom says. “Nobody wants to go to the hospital.”