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Published on July 23, 2021

Mary Tentis - St. Elizabeth's

COPD can't slow her down – and now, a new respiratory therapy tool has her breathing easier

It started about ten years ago. Mary Tentis thought she had bronchitis. But when her cough didn't go away, she sought advice from her doctor.

"That's when I learned I had something more serious – COPD," the retired nurse says. COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a lung disease that causes airflow blockages and breathing problems.

Mary didn't give up. A determined and health-conscious patient, she's been using a daily maintenance treatment since then and, fortunately, her flare-ups and few and far between.

Twice-weekly visits to the Wellness Center at Gundersen St. Elizabeth's Hospital and Clinics provide a boost too; a check of her blood pressure and blood oxygen levels before and after exercising ensures she's on track.

The Volara System

And now, Gundersen St. Elizabeth's adds another tool to help folks like Mary breathe easier: the Volara System. Combining three respiratory therapies, this system delivers medication and clears the airway at one time.

"Normally, it takes three separate treatments to accomplish this," says Jordy Iverson, a respiratory therapist at Gundersen St. Elizabeth's. "This new system takes a third of the time and is easier on patients."

This device, which was purchased with the support of a generous, local donor, helps patients like Mary with chronic lung diseases. Mary has been mindful and cautious throughout the pandemic, practicing good hand hygiene, wearing a mask, and social distancing.

As restrictions begin to loosen, Mary has gathered with family again and even met her great-granddaughter. She can step out again with a renewed sense of ease, knowing that therapies are available nearby if there's ever a need.

"This investment will serve us well into the future as we continue to see the long-term effects that COVID-19 has on patients," says Jordy. "Providing top-notch treatment for our respiratory patients is our number one priority."

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