Traveling respiratory therapist responds to viral video about El Paso hospitals

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) A respiratory therapist who worked in El Paso at different hospitals is responding to the viral video posted on social media earlier this week.

Misty Huffman is not originally from El Paso, but considers the Sun City her home. However, she left El Paso back in April to work in New York as a respiratory therapist treating COVID-19 patients. Since then she has worked in New York, Washington, Georgia and Laredo, Texas.

“I came back because a week after I left everything broke out here and I felt being home in my community is where I needed to be at this time,” said Misty Huffman, a traveling respiratory therapist.

Huffman told KTSM 9 News she saw the viral video posted by traveling nurse Lawanna Rivers earlier this week, a story that KTSM broke.

“I was at El Paso and they did not aggressively treat them as they should have,” said Lawanna Rivers a traveling nurse who worked at UMC. “The patients we coded, we were not allowed to bag them because that could increase our exposure, which I hadn’t seen,” she said.

KTSM 9 News reached out to University Medical Center about the video.

“After watching the video, while we cannot fully verify the thoughts and events expressed, we empathize and sympathize with the difficult, physical and emotional toll that this pandemic takes on thousands of healthcare workers here and throughout our country,” UMC spokesperson Ryan Mielke said. “This particular travel nurse was at UMC briefly to help El Paso confront the surge of COVID-19 patients.”

Huffman responded to the video saying seeing COVID-19 patients die everywhere she’s worked at has taken a toll on her, but says health care workers are trying their best.

“It really hits home for us and knowing that the family members can’t be there it tears us apart so were trying to take the place and do what we can. And to hear her say that we’re not doing enough and being aggressive enough when there’s not much we can do except support the body and allow it to try and fight,” said Huffman.

Huffman spoke about her experiences with coded patients, saying health care workers have to be careful and limit their exposure.

“As a respiratory therapist, that is my job. It is really hard to stand there and go, ‘there’s nothing I can do — I’ve done everything I can with my ventilator. At this point, a bag is not going to help anything.’ It’s going to put us all at risk, no matter how many filters that we put on there because it’s going to spread the virus if we’re doing things like that,” said Huffman.

Huffman also saying she is happy to be back in El Paso and ready to start helping COVID-19 patients. However, she hopes El Pasoans don’t lose confidence in their health care workers.

“This is hard it is emotionally draining, I have not had a ventilator patient survive yet, so that, for me as a respiratory therapist, we are liberating people from the ventilator. And when I can’t do that it, is so frustrating. But we do everything we can for these people,” said Huffman.

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