• Message from Mary
    I've recently received many questions about the history of the Respiratory Rally and the early days of pulmonary rehab, since not many of us in practice date back to that time.
  • More than 20 years ago, when my first patient support group was being formed, I was very fortunate to have a pulmonary rehab graduate named John Eels. Back in 1978 John helped to organize this first group, which called itself the PEP Pioneers. PEP was the acronym for Pulmonary Education Program, and Pioneers was chosen be-cause this was one of the first such support groups. They were true pioneers in a new area.. John was a recovering alcoholic who had formed a successful local AA chapter. He felt strongly that they should instill some of the AA principles into a self-help group for pulmonary patients. These Pioneers decided that it was important to keep in touch with each other, to ex-press concern for one another's health and progress, and to continue learning about their respiratory problems. It was a warm, loving and supportive environment stressing the positive, and discouraging critical, negative comments and attitudes about each other. They all became very special friends whom I will never forget. They taught me much of what I know, and were fiercely supportive. Mary Mugford, another patient who, along with John, was a strong leader, used to remind everyone that "Laughter is internal jogging". It was their motto, and there was a lot of internal jogging that went on! The group was a success but John, their leader, was depressed. It wasn't enough. There should be more.
  • Sitting on his hospital bed (which was most unprofessional in those days) I desperately brainstormed ideas to pique his interest and penetrate his depression. Thus was born the idea of a Respiratory Rally. The plan was grandiose. We would invite all the patients, family members and medical staff of pulmonary rehab programs in Southern California to join together for a day of fun and education. The purpose was to show everyone that they were not alone, nor even limited to one small hospital group. Those with respiratory disease, and all those who cared for them, were part of a larger family who, when gathering together, could celebrate this positive connection in their lives. We worked together on weekends and many evenings, struggling, brainstorming, to get this new idea up and running. Was it worth the effort? Yes!
  • The first Respiratory Rally in October of 1981 was a huge success. Dr. Ken Moser of UCSD, an internationally renowned physician, was our first keynote physician, thus establishing a tradition for excellence in speakers. Dr. Brian Tiep and Dr. Paul Selecky were there, at the first Rally and at every Rally since. Faithful friends! The Rally become an annual event, attracting over 300 people each year We were honored to have the idea copied in other parts of the country, and the world, including a Rally held in a castle in Belgium! The Pioneers were delighted Our goal was to reach out to others, share information, and become one group in purpose. We succeeded.
  • With that concept in mind, at that first Rally the coordinators of the Pulmonary Rehab programs also met. Those many years ago, they were all nurses, and so they called themselves the Pulmonary Nurses of Southern California. Most of us worked alone in our hospital setting. Now we had friends with similar problems to whom we could turn to for advice, support, and sharing of information. Many hospitals at that time wished to keep information about this new type of service private, to themselves, and definitely not given to "competitors", especially if their program was successful. But we quietly did what was right for our patients, and for the advancement of pulmonary rehabilitation. We shared information, friendship and support.
  • As the years passed, and many respiratory therapists entered the field of pulmonary rehab, the Pulmonary Nurse group disbanded and merged into CSPR, the California Society for Pulmonary Rehabilitation. The goal of CSPR was and still is to support and help each other, to help our patients, to learn better methods of education, to promote research, as well as to help each other with financial problems now caused by HMO's and Medicare.
  • Also in keeping with this philosophy, the Pulmonary Education and Re-search Foundation (PERF) was formed to support education and re-search, but also to reach out beyond one hospital, or one region, across the country and across the seas. Every patient with pulmonary disease should now know that he or she is not alone, not just a member of a small group, or even of a regional group. Each person with pulmonary disease, no matter where they are, should know that they are part of a world wide community that shares common problems, concerns and commitments to improving their lives and health, no matter what language is spoken or where they live. It is only by all of us joining forces in this common cause that we will succeed.
  • PERF may have a finite existence, but the Alvin Grancell-Mary Burns Chair of Rehabilitative Sciences, the next step in this continuum, is here in perpetuity, to continue forever, working to improve the science of pulmonary rehabilitation, the education of those who practice it, and the improvement of those who are afflicted.
  • Therefore, it seemed most appropriate when Dr. Tom Petty suggested a Rally for Research or maybe a Respiratory Research Revival to help fund the Chair. Since this will be a special, one-time event, a name change might be appropriate. Dr. Petty offered to be a keynote speaker, and is enthusiastic about again participating and "making this the best event ever". He spoke at the first of many Rallies back in 1985, yielding to the multiple invitations of Mary Mugford.
  • It seems appropriate that all these groups with mutual interests, should again join together for another day of fun, education, friendship, and support for the future of pulmonary education and research.. This big day will be June 22nd at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. Mark it on your calendars now! We'll give you more details later on how you too can be part of what promises to be a very special event.