Better Breathers Club To Support Patients With COPD

November is National COPD (Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease) month. While other major causes of death have decreased, COPD mortality has continued to rise and remains the 3rd leading cause of death. Approximately 12 million Americans are diagnosed with COPD and surprisingly, an additional 12 million remain undiagnosed. It is estimated that 120,000 Americans die from the disease each year. This is equal to nearly one death every four minutes. Research tells us that many patients do not get optimal treatment and research also remains the first line of defense to advance treatment. Education for COPD offers real opportunities to improve the patient’s quality of life.

On Wednesday, November 4, 2015, Respiratory Care Support Services at Good Samaritan will celebrate COPD month by launching a new support group called the Better Breathers Club. Dr. Rafael Lao II, Medical Director for the Respiratory Care Department, will facilitate and present at this inaugural meeting which will be held in the Good Samaritan Cancer Pavilion Conference Room from noon to 1:30 P.M. E.T.

As a provider of Critical Care Services at Good Samaritan, Dr. Lao has been exposed to the devastating effects of COPD on his patients. Dr. Lao comments, “I am very pleased to facilitate and support the Better Breathers Club. This program will provide information and services that promote early diagnosis, treatment and guidance that decrease devastating outcomes and improve the quality of life for our patients.”

The Better Breathers Club is a program developed and endorsed by the American Lung Association (ALA) and facilitators for Good Samaritan’s program are certified through the association. The purpose of the club is to offer patient-centered and community-based educational opportunities, and support to patients with chronic lung disease, especially COPD. Patients suffering with other lung diseases such as asthma, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), and lung cancer may also benefit from this program along with their families, friends and support system.

The goal of the Better Breathers Club support group is to improve the quality of life and functional status for members by providing disease-specific education and emotional connection, which may prevent exacerbations requiring medical care, thereby reducing the health, economic and social burden of lung disease.

One of Good Samaritan’s goals is to make a difference in the health of our community. That goal may be achieved through the provision of inpatient and outpatient services that increase the awareness and understanding of COPD. Another goal is to increase the knowledge and understanding that COPD is treatable.

Tammy Howell, CRT Respiratory Support Services at Good Samaritan and group organizer, knows how important these meetings are for patients with COPD. “The Better Breathers Club will enable members to give and receive encouragement by discussing how they manage their disease,” stated Howell. “The support group will offer members a sense of acceptance and friendship that they may not find elsewhere.” Janet Sievers, RRT, Director of Respiratory Care at Good Samaritan states that “this new program will fill a void in the continued care and support of patients affected by lung disease and we are very pleased to see this program come to fruition. It is through the dedicated work of Tammy, and Mary Lou McClung, Department Manager, that this was made possible.”

Family physicians and primary care providers play an important role in the diagnosis and management of COPD. If you are concerned that you might have COPD or another lung disorder, you are encouraged to speak with your health care provider. Your provider may order diagnostic testing to confirm diagnosis if present, grade the severity of your disease, and provide treatment options.

If you have any questions or would like to register for this free event, please call Tammy Howell at 812-885-3215 or you can reach her by email at

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