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Meet the Staff: Elmer Diwa, Respiratory Therapist

Originally published November 9, 2022

Last reviewed November 9, 2022

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USC Arcadia Hospital respiratory therapist Elmer Diwa

Elmer Diwa, RRT, RCP, delivers thoughtful care at the same facility where he was once a stroke patient.

Diwa, a respiratory care supervisor at USC Arcadia Hospital, recently spoke about his 35-year career and continued passion for the work.

What does a respiratory therapist do?

I work with physicians to help diagnose and treat a range of patients, from premature infants whose lungs are not fully developed to elderly people with lung disease. On a given day, I may be on emergency cases, assisting with an intubation and managing life support.

It’s personal for me: After my stroke, my hospital colleagues worked hard to make sure I was comfortable. Every time I see a patient, I feel like I’m returning the favor.

When I wake up, I can hardly wait to go to work and care for the patients I saw the day before, because I want to see how my care is starting to help them.

Elmer Diwa, RRT, RCP, respiratory care supervisor

Why did you become a respiratory therapist?

Three decades ago, I was a nursing student learning bedside care. I noticed this gentleman in the ICU operating a device connected to a patient; it looked like a respirator.

The man was wearing a lab coat, holding a clipboard, listening to the patient’s breath. I thought: “Wow, this is amazing.” That’s when I started to change my focus to respiratory therapy, and I never looked back.

Elmer Diwa, RRT, RCP, on the job at USC Arcadia Hospital (Photos by Ricardo Carrasco III)

What gives you motivation?

When I wake up, I can hardly wait to go to work and care for the patients I saw the day before, because I want to see how my care is starting to help them.

When you see a patient transitioning from the emergency room to the intensive care unit, they can be almost lifeless before we start to revive them. As a respiratory therapist, it’s satisfying to be part of the care that makes a big difference.

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Topics

lung disease
respiratory illnesses
USC Arcadia Hospital
USC Health
Michael Juliani
Michael Juliani is a senior writer at Keck Medicine of USC.

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