CCAC Respiratory Therapy students to participate in National COPD Day on Nov. 11

Article by: CCAC Public Relations

PITTSBURGH-The Community College of Allegheny County's Respiratory Therapy program students will apply their skills and training at area hospitals this weekend to help prevent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)-the third leading cause of death in the U.S.-from advancing among area residents. Approximately 15 students from CCAC's Allegheny Campus will volunteer at six Allegheny Health Network (AHN) hospitals that are recognizing National COPD Day on Saturday, Nov. 11, from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Students will assist with providing education and screenings, including pulmonary function testing. In addition, the sites will offer flu vaccinations, inhaler instruction and information on smoking cessation and home health care.

COPD is on the rise worldwide and particularly in Southwestern Pennsylvania. It is most prevalent in the growing elderly population, although the disease is often underdiagnosed, according to Richard Laurent, coordinator of the CCAC Respiratory Therapy program and department chair, Allied Health. COPD is also a big issue locally due to the history of coal mining and steel mills in the region, which can continue to have damaging effects on individuals who lived through that era, said John Smith, AHN senior clinical program manager, Pulmonary, who is leading the event. Anyone who smokes is also at greater risk of developing the disease. COPD Day is designed to raise awareness, as well as help individuals who have breathing problems or potential issues. Smith enlisted the assistance of Laurent and the CCAC students to support the effort.

"I thought it would be a good opportunity for the students to get out into the community and see how therapists interact with their patients in this setting. This is a very valuable part of their education, and it also gives them the opportunity to volunteer," said Smith, who studied under Laurent in the 1980s. "Richard was a great mentor. He's always very supportive of the students, making sure they get what they need to be prepared and successful."

AHN hospitals participating in COPD Day on Saturday, Nov. 11, are: Allegheny Valley Hospital, Canonsburg Hospital, Forbes Hospital, Jefferson Hospital, Saint Vincent Hospital and Wexford Health + Wellness Pavilion. West Penn Hospital will participate on Thursday, Nov. 16, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

For more information, visit: To learn more about CCAC's Respiratory Therapy program, visit

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