Genesee Community College's Respiratory Care Center Prepares for Awareness Week

Genesee Community College's Respiratory Care Center Prepares for Awareness Week
As National Respiratory Care Week (October 22-28, 2006) draws near, Assistant Professor Ronald M. Jacobs and his department are excited about the upcoming special initiatives that lie ahead. Jacobs is the director for the Respiratory Care program at Genesee Community College and through his expertise and dedication to the field, he has trained more than 100 graduates in this important area of human health. He has also become nationally recognized for his efforts in advancing awareness about respiratory issues.

At the Wednesday, October 11th Genesee County Legislature meeting, Professor Jacobs will be joined by two of his current students, sophomore Michael Hennessy of Geneseo, and freshman Michelle Cruz, Rochester, to receive a special proclamation from Genesee County Manager Jay Gsell. The ceremony is scheduled at 7:00 PM at the Old Courthouse on Main Street in the city of Batavia and is open to the public. Jacobs will not only be representing Genesee Community College with this award ceremony, but he also shares this honor as the president-elect of the Western New York Chapter of the New York State Society of Respiratory Care (NYSSRC), for which he has also been a state board member for 10 of the last 14 years years.

Students Hennessy and Cruz are both active on campus and involved in the Respiratory Care Practitioner’s Club. Some activities that are included with this College club are annually manning the Respiratory Care booth at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, raising money to support attendance to educational conferences, and participating in special campus events such as the upcoming “How the Health Are You” program on campus on November 9, 2006.

As director of the Respiratory Care Program, which is enjoying record-breaking enrollment growth, Ron Jacobs is a distinguished faculty member at Genesee Community College. He is also a sought-after speaker within the respiratory care field. In December, he has been invited to return for a second speaking engagement before the attendees of the international Postgraduate Assembly for Anesthesiologists. Additionally, Jacobs received the NYSSRC’s Samuel Runyon Memorial Award in 2004, the highest award bestowed upon its members.

“I love teaching because it allows me to help more people indirectly than I ever could directly in the field,” Jacobs said. “The more people I can train correctly here, the more people they can help after they graduate.” He has a general love for helping people and making a contribution to someone’s well-being, which is why he continues to work in an Intensive Care Nursery in Buffalo.

Jacobs, a resident of Tonawanda, began his career attending SUNY Brockport and receiving his Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry. Then in 1979 he earned his A.A.S. in Respiratory Therapy Technology while also working at Columbus Hospital in Buffalo. Afterwards he worked as supervisor within the Neonatal ICU at the Sierra Medical Center in El Paso, TX, and he has held multiple positions at health care facilities in Buffalo, including director for Respiratory Care Services at Erie County Medical Center.

His current role as president-elect of the WNY chapter of the NYSSRC, came about, in part, through his dedication and service after the September 11th attacks in New York City. He spent over two weeks testing New York City Police rescue workers around the World Trade Center site for respiratory health issues. This effort led to a special request for a research project after 2001, for which he received the Liberty Award in October of 2003.

Today, there is growing concern about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), the second leading cause of chronic death. The U.S. Congress recently created a caucus to investigate the illness and determine ways to address this growing health problem. COPD is a group of irreversible diseases that make it difficult to breathe due to air not flowing easily through the lungs. Jacobs quickly points out that chronic bronchitis and emphysema are both caused by smoking tobacco and also long periods of exposure to industrial dust, air pollution and chemical fumes and are believed to contribute extensively to COPD.

These issues are part of the ongoing work of the NYSSRC, which is part of the national organization, the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC). Jacobs and over 100 therapists from all over the country will be representing the AARC in a visit to Washington, D.C. in early 2007 and help push for a Bill to be passed that would reimburse for skilled home care visits by licensed respiratory therapists who are in the front lines of helping thousands of people breathe while suffering from COPD and other respiratory illnesses.

For further information about respiratory issues, please go to the AARC website at

A photograph of Ronald M. Jacobs, director of Genesee Community College’s Respiratory Care program is available at: