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2018 MEDICAL DIRECTORSHIPS AT THE WILLIAM W.

BACKUS HOSPITAL

Donna Romito, DO.


Director of Pulmonary Medicine

This is a very exciting time to become Director of Pulmonary our COPD patients from admission to discharge and beyond. It
Medicine. I have been at the William W. Backus Hospital practicing is a multidisciplinary team approach that is focusing on patient
both pulmonary and critical care medicine for 20 years. How we education, streamlining their medication regimens, and establishing
approach lung disease as a society has changed significantly in that outpatient support. The goal is to provide patients with the tools
time. Our available therapies have expanded dramatically allowing to participate in their care and improve their level of functioning,
our patients with chronic lung disease to live longer. This challenges thereby improving quality of life and reducing hospitalizations.
the healthcare system to provide new strategies for a better quality
of life. In the last 3-5 years the bronchoscopy program at Backus Hospital
has expanded. We offer conventional fiberoptic bronchoscopy as
The Pulmonary Directorship at Backus Hospital currently well as EBUS and Navigational bronchoscopies. These are being
encompasses the outpatient Pulmonary Rehabilitation program, the done with increasing numbers every year. Unfortunately, the
Pulmonary Function Lab and bronchoscopy services. bronchoscopy schedule has been constrained by the absence of
a dedicated bronchoscopy suite. This continues to be a work in
Backus Hospital has a long-standing outpatient Pulmonary progress.
Rehabilitation program. The purpose of the program is to provide
patients with a better understanding of their disease, knowledge A high priority project will be a community asthma education
about the correct use of the treatments, and techniques to improve program. Asthma is often overlooked and education in the local
their physical condition. The goal is to have fewer exacerbations community is imperative. Nationally, asthma results in many days
of their disease, reduced readmission and total number of lost from school for children and from the work force for adults, and
hospitalizations. Over the years the shortcomings of the program poorer quality of life.
include lack of available space and personnel. An additional
drawback is current criteria which exclude some patient that would Backus Hospital had an active thoracic surgery service for many
benefit for the program. There are patients with lesser disease who years, staffed by Dr. Paul Gerity, Dr. Michael Deren, Dr. William
would also benefit from the education. Nonetheless, the program Crawford and then Dr. Juan Escalon during the 1980-2000 era. Since
has been graduating steadily larger numbers of patients. joining Hartford HealthCare, the service has vanished. According to
the tumor registry at Backus Hospital, 118 patients were diagnosed
I have an invested interest in general health and how nutrition, with lung cancer and three patients with mesothelioma in 2017.
exercise and sleep interact. This interaction is especially These number in addition to VATS procedures for pleural and
important when factoring in pulmonary disease. These areas pericardial effusions, empyema and lung abscesses, lung nodules
require ongoing patient education and reinforcement. I have been of indeterminate etiology, should merit a strong thoracic surgery
providing community educating through a local inpatient pulmonary presence at Backus Hospital. Rebuilding the thoracic surgery
rehabilitation program where I have been Director since 2006. needs to be a project between Backus Hospital administration and
Hartford HealthCare in the coming months.
New advances in pulmonary medicine at Backus include the
redesigned COPD program. This is an initiative across the I look forward to working with my colleagues to provide outstanding
Hartford HealthCare system to change the focus of how we treat services for our pulmonary patients in our community. n

12 THE OPEN JOURNAL