Melissa Smith, a respiratory therapist at Lakeview Regional Medical Center, a campus of Tulane Medical Center, was awarded Outstanding Respiratory Therapist of the Year by the Louisiana Society for Respiratory Care (LSRC) at its 50th annual educational meeting and exhibits in Baton Rouge. Lakeview Regional was also named a Hospital of the Year for Respiratory Care. Recognized among its peers of hospitals with less than 200 beds, Lakeview Regional demonstrates and meets criteria related to enhancing and promoting the profession of respiratory care and having achieved successful outcomes within its facility and community.

The therapist of the year award honors one individual in the field of respiratory care who has best demonstrated throughout their career the qualities of excellence, compassion, collaboration, and volunteerism. Melissa was chosen because she personifies the dedication and spirit of those committed to the profession of respiratory care and best exemplifies the mission and vision of the LSRC.

"Melissa is especially deserving of this award, and we are honored that she has chosen Lakeview Regional as her home," said John Blender, Respiratory Director. "Melissa and our entire team of respiratory therapists were our unsung heroes during the pandemic, working countless hours, days and nights caring for our patients. Melissa always has a positive attitude and truly cares about her patients."

Melissa has worked as a respiratory therapist for 35 years, caring for neonatal, pediatric, and adult patients with lung disorders. She is a trained smoking cessation counselor and helps people change their lives by quitting smoking. She is the Lakeview respiratory educator and leads the department in the performance of pulmonary function tests. Melissa is also an active member of the Louisiana State Respiratory Care Board. She enjoys spending time with her friends and family in her free time.

In addition to providing critical inpatient care, Lakeview Regional's respiratory care team hosts several community events and classes to improve the region's health status. The American Lung Association Better Breathers Club offers support and education to patients and those in the community who are living with lung conditions such as COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, and asthma. The meetings provide tools to help patients stay active and healthy while living the best quality of life possible. Smoking cessation classes are held weekly at Lakeview Regional and provide participants with the tools and guidance to quit smoking permanently. The classes help individuals discover why they smoke and help break down barriers to quitting, utilizing a stepwise approach to ending addiction. For more information and to register for the free classes, please call (985) 867-3898.