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Jessica Blanton

A Heart for Education

June 04, 2024 Posted in: Patients & Providers  3 minute read time

Donita Blanton uses her own experience to teach patients how to find the strength to get better.

Fifteen years ago, Donita Blanton, RT, didn’t know if she’d be able to stay employed in her demanding field of respiratory therapy. After years working in home health care and in a long-term ventilator unit at a hospital, Blanton found herself sidelined by her own health problems.

“I survived breast cancer and three back surgeries,” Blanton said. “I had partial paralysis from the waist to the knees for a year, and I ended up being unable to work for a total of nine years.”

Eventually, prayer led Blanton to wonder if she could start again.

“In 2017, I felt like God was telling me to get my license reinstated,” Blanton said. “Within the same week, I ran into a woman I barely knew, and she asked me, ‘Do you ever think about going back to work? I work for a pulmonologist, and he needs an RT.’”

Back on the Job

Six years ago, Blanton joined Saint Joseph London. Two years ago she began her current position as a cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialist. During that time, her enthusiasm for her work has only grown.

“I absolutely love — and I have to emphasize the word ‘love’ — educating patients,” Blanton said. “That’s one of my favorite things, along with getting to know them and being their biggest cheerleader.”

Now 51, Blanton uses her own experience as a patient to help the people she treats.

“When I have a patient tell me, ‘You can’t begin to understand what I’m going through,’ I can tell them that I do,” Blanton said. “I’ve learned from the hand life has dealt me, and it helps me be a better therapist.”

Blanton works hard to treat the whole patient during rehabilitation, going beyond improving cardiac and pulmonary function after a heart attack or stroke.

“People often put on a happy face, but the majority of my patients are terrified of having another cardiac event,” Blanton said. “I work with them to manage anxiety and focus on goals, such as getting back to church or out on the lake to fish.”

A Dedication to Family

When she’s not working, Blanton is usually quilting, gardening or spending time with her family. With five grandchildren ages 10 to 2, Blanton and her husband of 32 years are always busy.

“My husband said my grandchildren are my favorite hobby, and honestly, they’re my favorite thing in the world,” Blanton said. “I just love to look at life through their eyes. It keeps me grounded.”

When I have a patient tell me, ‘You can’t begin to understand what I’m going through,’ I can tell them that I do.” 

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