Respiratory Care

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Respiratory Care at Pella Regional specializes in treating respiratory illnesses for patients of all ages with breathing disorders. This includes chronic lung problems such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema, as well as acute breathing problems associated with serious or life-threatening conditions such as traumatic injury, heart attack or stroke. These disorders may come about due to serious illness or accident. Our goals is to work with the patient to prevent readmission to the hospital through disease management in the patient's home.

Along with medical director, Dr. Jason Wittmer, our team is instrumental in helping diagnose, treat, manage and provide education for patients with respiratory problems. On the inpatient units respiratory therapists work one-on-one to develop a respiratory care plan that is best suited to each patient's needs.

Respiratory therapists also treat people on an outpatient basis by doctor referral. Outpatient procedures include pulmonary function tests, pulmonary rehabilitation and pulse oximetry.


There are multiple tests that physicians use to determine the status of respiratory illnesses. These test monitor breathing so that a plan can be designed to help meet your respiratory needs.

Pulmonary Function Test (PFT)

Pulmonary function tests are used to determine the status of lung function by measuring the volume of air exhaled after maximum inhalation. Along with patients who are referred by their physician, many businesses do pulmonary function tests for employees subject to toxic environments.


Spirometry is a simple breathing test that measures the amount of air exhaled after maximum inhalation. The results of the test show airway obstruction so that the physician can determine a plan to increase air flow.

You should see your physician about a spirometry test if you answer yes to any of the following questions:

  • Do you (now) or have you ever smoked?
  • Are you short of breath more often than other people?
  • Do you have a cough that does not go away?
  • If you cough, do you cough up mucus?
  • Do people around you smoke?
  • Do you work around chemicals and dust?
  • Does bronchitis or emphysema run in your family?
  • Do you wheeze (a whistling or squeaky sound) when you breathe?
6 Minute Walk

The six-minute walk is generally used at the beginning of a pulmonary rehabilitation program. The results of the test help the physician set up an exercise program designed to meet the patient's needs.

During the test patients will walk as far as possible for 6 minutes. They walk back and forth across a flat surface (like a hallway) so that breathing can be monitored in a setting where there is exertion.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Pulmonary rehabilitation is for patients with chronic lung diseases like emphysema, bronchitis, and asthma to help them lead full, satisfying lives while restoring them to their highest functional capacity. 

Pulmonary rehab can improve quality of life by:

  • Decreasing respiratory symptoms and complications
  • Encouraging self-management and control over daily breathing function
  • Improving physical conditioning and exercise performance
  • Improving emotional well-being
  • Reducing hospitalizations

Pulmonary rehab combines exercise, education, emotional management and nutrition to help patients improve respiratory symptoms.

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