From the Front Lines: Respiratory Therapist Marina Buljat

Meet Marina Buljat, one of our hospital heroes. Today, she shares her perspective as an RT at Royal Jubilee Hospital. We’re asking our community to donate to It’s Critical, a campaign to raise $7 million to build Island Health’s first High Acuity Unit.

The first $1 million will immediately purchase equipment to aid COVID-19 response and the next $6 million will build a permanent High Acuity Unit. Marina shares why this is so important for Vancouver Island—and how donors like you can help.

We help people breathe.

If they need more oxygen, if they need assistance breathing, we’re the ones who answer the call. And that’s what makes this job so rewarding.

My classmates and I graduated from the respiratory therapy program at Thompson Rivers University. Knowing the incredible demand coming an accelerated graduation was developed in order to help our hospitals’ COVID-19 response. I am so grateful to be able to support our community during these times and into the future.

No day in the hospital is the same: one day I’m on the ward, or emergency, and the next I’m in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). But the goal always remains the same: to help our patients breathe again.

Every day, I make my rounds. I insert a tube into a patient’s airway. Put them on a ventilator, to blow air into their lungs. I check for changes to their vital signs, or adjust the ventilator to make them more comfortable, ensuring proper oxygen levels in their blood. When someone is in distress, I act.

It can be scary because we don’t know what’s coming through our doors next. We have to prepare for the unknown—to assume the worst. We need a High Acuity Unit (HAU).

Though I’m fairly new to healthcare, I already know the vital role our community plays. Donors like you are part of a remarkable effort to build Island Health’s first ever HAU.

A new HAU will gather patients with acute illnesses into one area for specialized care. These are patients who need a higher level of care than the wards provide, but don’t need the care of an ICU. This HAU will be staffed by specially trained clinicians and have specialized equipment that the wards don’t. Centralized monitors and alarms will help us track how patients are doing. If they take a turn for the worse, we will be alerted and quickly intervene.

With a new HAU, no one who needs this level of help and attention will be missed simply because they weren’t sick enough for the ICU. With our growing and aging population, a permanent HAU will benefit Vancouver Island residents for decades. I promise you it will save lives.

Jumping into a new job in a global pandemic is a whirlwind—overwhelming, exciting, even nerve-wracking—but being able to help right now means more than anything. My family’s here. I grew up here. This is my community and it’s  where I want to give back to most. When they called for Respiratory Therapists, I was all in. I pursued this career because it’s fulfilling to help others—and now more than ever, I know I’m needed.

But we can’t do this work without your help. I’m always amazed that when people can give, they do. Please know that you are absolutely fundamental to the well-being of our patients through what’s to come. Let’s protect what we love and those we love—together.

Marina Buljat
Respiratory Therapist
Royal Jubilee Hospital