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Rochelle Riemer
COPD Nurse Practitioner
Rochelle wearing a mask and shield
Health Professionals

I am deeply appreciative of the folks at Lung Sask and the partnership they have with the Saskatchewan Health Authority. Lung Sask provides a high standard of care and expertise.

My Lung Story

“I am currently the Nurse Practitioner (NP) in the COPD Program in Saskatoon. This role was developed in collaboration with the SHA and Dr. Marciniuk, the Medical Director of the program, who provided evidence that many COPD clients were coming into emergency rooms to treat their COPD. My job mandate was to decrease the use of the emergency room for COPD treatment that could be better managed in the community. I began by visiting various clinics and the emergency rooms to get to know the staff so they would refer appropriate COPD cases to me. Previously, if someone came in with a COPD-related issue, the staff would have to admit the patient. Thanks to the newly developed COPD NP role, I was able to connect with the patient in the emergency room and follow up with them at home in the next couple of days.  

It has been wonderful to see progress. One notable example was a man who presented thirteen times in one year to all three hospitals in Saskatoon. Each time he would be sent home with the diagnosis of an exacerbation of COPD despite never having been formally diagnosed using a pulmonary function test. Once I was connected with this patient, I arranged for a Pulmonary Function Test, which showed mild asthma – not COPD. I then referred him to a respirologist. As far as I know, he has not been back in the emergency department since. Stories like this highlight the value of the NP role in the COPD Program. 

When I started working in the COPD Program, there was an emphasis placed on professional development and specialization. I began working towards becoming a Certified Respiratory Educator and I took my courses through the RESPTREC program. The courses were multifaceted and covered a variety of topics, from the Anatomy and Physiology of COPD to the importance of being an effective respiratory educator. A key part of what a Respiratory Educator does is to teach patients to self-manage by empowering them to better manage their COPD symptoms and optimize their quality of life. Through RESPTREC you also learn how to develop relationships with clients to build their individual capacity to manage the variability of their health condition. RESPTREC also teaches educators how to find support or when to contact someone who can help if needed. 

I am deeply appreciative of the folks at Lung Sask and the partnership they have with the Saskatchewan Health Authority. I am so pleased that I have had opportunities to collaborate with Lung Sask in the past. On an ongoing basis, I refer my clients to Charlotte for pulmonary function testing. I was also lucky enough to be asked to be a presenter for Lung Sask’s Fall Webinar Series. Lung Sask provides a high standard of care and expertise to the people of Saskatchewan. They’re just a bunch of heroes to me.”