On February 8, Conestoga’s Respiratory Therapy Federation, a student-run club dedicated to promoting the Respiratory Therapy (RT) program and raising awareness of respiratory health and wellness, presented 2014 RT graduate Jessika Szponarski with a $300 cheque to support her next medical relief mission to Haiti.
Conestoga's Respiratory Therapy Federation raised $300 to support graduate Jessika Szponarski's medical relief mission to Haiti. L - R Dan Chen, Jessika Szponarski, Zoe Chatzidakis
Szponarski volunteers with Team Broken Earth, a volunteer-driven medical relief effort organized to provide medical assistance to Haiti’s earthquake victims. Since beginning its work in 2011, the organization has expanded its efforts into Bangladesh, Nicaragua and Guatemala.
Before the cheque presentation, Szponarski delivered a presentation to RT students outlining her first volunteer mission to Haiti in 2017. She described the current conditions in the country, shared pictures and outlined some of the most crucial shortages facing relief efforts in Haiti, including shortages of medication, blood products, equipment and electricity. She also shared details about her role there and the skills she applied.
Szponarski works as a registered respiratory therapist at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre and learned about Team Broken Earth through her colleagues. Her next mission to Haiti is planned for April and she hopes to return there with needed medical equipment. Her expenses for the trips are paid out-of-pocket or through fundraising.
“I feel like I didn’t know what to expect on my first trip,” Szponarski explained. “I feel like I can do more this year -- I understand my role and I can bring supplies with me.”
The Respiratory Therapy Federation has approximately 50 active members and welcomes students from various programs at the college. Funds presented to Szponarski to help with the purchase of medical supplies were collected through various fundraising events including a Christmas party and clothing drive.
Conestoga’s Respiratory Therapy program provides a diverse learning environment that utilizes classroom education, laboratory sessions, clinically immersive simulation, e-learning and early clinical exposure with continuous role modeling of the profession. The three-year program is designed to satisfy the educational requirements for registration as a Registered Respiratory Therapist based on the National Competency Profile for Respiratory Therapy and is is accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Respiratory Therapy Education.
Visit the program page for more information.