Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation | TheUnion.com
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Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation

As things begin to settle down from the Jones Fire, other fires are still raging across the state. As we get back to our new normal, we should still be cautious by smoke coming from other areas.

According to New York’s Department of Health, within smoke released by fire (forest, brush, structures, crops, etc.) there is a mixture of chemicals and particles produced by the incomplete burning of carbon materials. Smoke contains carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and matter such as soot. Chemicals in smoke may include sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, styrene and more. The amount of materials depends on the burn temperature, how much oxygen is present and what is burning.

Inhaling a significant amount of smoke over a short period of time can cause serious effects. Smoke can be irritating for eyes, nose and throat. Some become nauseous from the smell. Some may experience changes to lung function resulting in difficulty breathing.



Small particles and carbon monoxide are two major agents that can cause smoke related health effects. Carbon monoxide inhalation can decrease the body’s oxygen supply which can cause headaches, reduce alertness, and agitate heart conditions, primarily angina (chest pain). Particles can travel into the respiratory tract until they reach the lungs. Some people will notice respiratory irritation or medical conditions such as asthma.

Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH) has a dynamic respiratory therapy program. Respiratory therapists assist patients with breathing issues. They treat all generations from premature infants whose lungs are not fully developed to elderly people with lung disease. They give patients oxygen, manage ventilators, and can administer drugs to the lungs.



Additional respiratory therapist responsibilities include assisting with diagnosing lung or breathing disorders, evaluating patients, performing tests and studies, coordinating with physicians to determine therapy and treatment options, managing equipment and devices and educating patients and their families about lung disease and breathing disorders.

The Respiratory Therapy department at SNMH provides a wide range of services to people with asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, lung cancer, and other lung related conditions. The department also provides screening pulmonary function studies.

Suzanne Belew serves as manager of Cardiopulmonary Services at SNMH. She manages 14 respiratory therapists who are trained clinicians that not only establish and maintain advanced airway and arterial vascular access, they also mange life support for critically ill patients. These dedicated individuals interact with patients daily and provide education and resources for those discharged from the hospital. Dr. John Lace, is medical director of critical and respiratory care at SNMH. He has extensive experience in obstructive lung disease, COPD, and more. As a Pulmonologist, Dr. Lace treat ailments of the lungs and respiratory system such as asthma, pneumonia, tuberculosis, complicated chest infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases including emphysema.

The great news is if you are having respiratory issues and need care as an outpatient through a doctor’s office or at SNMH, you can be assured your care is being managed by highly experienced and knowledgeable physicians and clinicians.


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