Fanshawe student shares life-saving knowledge

Jessy Walsh (pictured) is sharing her expertise with those who really need it.

At the beginning of the year, a mother contacted Fanshawe College after her child experienced respiratory distress at her daycare. She wanted the professors to go to the daycare in Tillsonburg and train the staff on identifying respiratory distress to assist in an emergency and help her daughter if something happened again.

That’s why respiratory therapist student Jessy Walsh visited the daycare last month to share life-saving information, coinciding with Respiratory Therapy Week in Canada (from Oct. 22 to 28).

“Her little daughter was struggling to breathe as a result of being born premature,” Walsh explained. “So, my professor immediately thought of me because I have worked in daycares with my son for the last seven years.”

Listen live on

Walsh is a mother of three children, her first born at just 23 weeks in 2016. The experiences she had with the respiratory therapists who saved her son’s life inspired her to pursue the profession.

“My son still uses oxygen at nighttime. But he goes to school in his full-time wheelchair during the day. He brings oxygen wherever he goes. There’s emergency staff with him. He has a nurse every day with him at nighttime and school. So, I’ve had to train many people before becoming a respiratory therapist student.”

After seven years of caring for her son and the twins she later had, she decided to return to work. However, instead of returning to her old position as a social worker, she wanted to study to be a respiratory therapist.

“I’m a mature student of 34 years old coming back, which also causes frustration because I feel like my brain is slow, but it’s because I have all these other commitments outside of school, taking care of a family.”

Walsh first studied a one-year prehealth course and is now doing her second year in the respiratory therapist program. But only a few people understand what she is learning and how vital her future profession is.

“Many ask me if I am a nurse, and I explain that I’m dedicated to the cardiopulmonary system. And if one thing goes wonky in your heart, it affects your lungs. If one thing in your lungs goes wonky, it affects your heart.”

The course coordinator, Julie Brown, explained the considerable demand for respiratory therapists.

“Our profession grew quite a bit during the COVID pandemic. And, at that same time, we had the first sort of round of the original people in our profession retiring.”

Walsh said she helps other people so that none of them go through the same situation she did.

After her time at the daycare, parents approached Brown to tell her that Walsh had done a fabulous job and that they greatly appreciated her work.

“I do this because it was the right thing to do. I’m all about patient-centred care, and I would have wanted someone to do this for my son if I had had access to it,” Walsh said.