Hometown Hero: Respiratory therapist can’t, won’t stay home

By Scott Halasz - [email protected]



XENIA — The profile photo on her Facebook page says it all.

Around a photo of her and her husband, Sean, Kiann Phillips has the words “I can’t stay home. I’m a respiratory therapist.”

During this time of coronavirus-induced social distancing and not leaving the comforts of home unless necessary, the Xenia resident is at the front of the front lines as a day shift team leader and supervisor at Miami Valley Hospital’s main campus.

“I do a lot of the emergency room patient care,” Phillips said. “I’m like the No. 2 person in our ER, to help the ER therapist.”

She not only can’t stay home, she can’t really be socially distant, caring for patients until they are moved to a critical care area, like the ICU.

“We are very hands on,” Phillips said. “We are right there in the patient’s face. It is more stressful to say the least.”

Her stress level went up when a good friend of hers, also a respiratory therapist, was hospitalized for 29 days and on a ventilator for 16 days while fighting the coronavirus.

“That one hit home,” Phillips said. “Having to go back to work that first day, I kind of had lots of anxiety. Just not knowing what you’re walking into. I didn’t think I had anxiety until this kind of hit.”

And it’s hit somewhat hard. Data as of Tuesday showed 433 COVID-19 cases in Montgomery County with 129 hospitalizations and 10 deaths. Only Butler and Hamilton counties have more confirmed cases in southwest Ohio.

But when Phillips — a 2004 Xenia High School graduate — encounters patients, there is still a big question mark.

“When we see them, when I see them, we don’t know if they have it or not,” Phillips said. “We treat everybody as if they are positive.”

That means Phillips and her team must take extra precautions. They were all fitted for N95 masks and wear eye protection, gowns and gloves for all patients in the ER unless they know it’s not a possibility, like for broken bones, etc.

Phillips also has her temperature taken before she gets in the building and has greeters asking questions. She also washes her hands more frequently.

But all the extra precautions have not had an adverse effect on job performance.

“Everything has gone smoothly,” Phillips said. “We’ve been able to handle it pretty well.”

COVID-19 has also changed her routine at home.

With two young children, Phillips goes into her home through the back door, puts clothes in the laundry and goes right upstairs to shower.

“I’ll be glad when we can get back to some normalcy,” Phillips said. “Scary time that we’re living in. One that will be in the record books.”

Nominated to be a Hometown Hero by her mother, Rhonda Ferguson, Phillips doesn’t feel all that special.

“I don’t feel like I’m doing anything different than I normally would … except the extra protection measures.”

She said some in the profession have volunteered to work only with COVID-19 patients.

“Those are the heroes,” Phillips said. “They all have families and kids.”


By Scott Halasz

[email protected]

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.