April 3, 2020

Giving the Breath of Life: Abdullah Alismail’s Story

IN HIGH DEMAND: Ventilators are desperately needed to support patients with severe COVID-19 infections. It's the job of Loma Linda respiratory therapist Abdullah Alismail to keep a running inventory for the patients in highest need.

In this COVID-19 pandemic, ventilator might be the word at the forefront of most people’s minds. But it takes far more than a machine to save a life.

Ventilator management is an intense, time-sensitive process that can change minute to minute based on the patient’s condition, which increases the demand for skilled and educated respiratory therapists.

“We are the first responders to be called on when someone is having a life-threatening event where their breathing or heart is faltering or has stopped,” says Abdullah Alismail, a respiratory therapist himself. “Saving lives and helping you breathe better is what we do.”

A doctoral student in CGU’s School of Educational Studies, Alismail is doing his best to respond to demand at Loma Linda University Medical Center, taking inventory at the university in case the main hospital’s ICU needs ventilators.

When you “provide the medical treatment that allows a breath of life to occur for someone short of breath,” says Alismail, it “means everything.”

He has another major responsibility as well. As a faculty member training future respiratory therapists, and as the director of clinical education, he is ensuring that students can still graduate on time by developing a virtual curriculum that gives them the experience of working with ventilators and shaping treatment regimens.

He credits this emphasis on innovation, in part, to his time at CGU.

“CGU sharpened my view of learning and research skills to find a solution,” he said. “Interpreting research and studies in peer-reviewed journals significantly helped me at the bedside to understand how to provide the best care to my patients.”

Abdullah Alismail

As a member of the clinical practice committee at the California Thoracic Society, he has helped assist other clinicians around California by creating an FAQ on best practices for those treating COVID-19.

He and the Society are also working on a platform for ICU physicians statewide to track COVID-19 cases and ventilator inventory, hoping to identify ICUs in greatest need.

These are hyper-stressful times for healthcare providers, but Alismail, who recently assisted in preparing transport of 6 ventilators to Loma Linda’s sister hospital in Glendale, California, says it is well worth it.

“That moment,” he said, “when you provide the medical treatment that allows a breath of life to occur for someone short of breath means everything.”