Licensed Respiratory Therapists

Graham Health System has a complete Respiratory Department with the ability to perform essentially any treatment or procedure that larger facilities offer. The Graham Respiratory Therapists are licensed by the State of Illinois and have, at minimum, a two year associate’s degree with an emphasis in Respiratory care. Our therapists provide the following respiratory care services, as needed or prescribed by your physician: BiPAP therapy, ventilator care, disease management, and medication delivery for inpatients.


 Graham Health System Outpatient services of Respiratory Care include:

Healthcare provider performing Pulmonary Function Test

  • Pulmonary Function Tests - a group of tests measuring how well your lungs work. Including how well you are able to breath and how well your lungs are able to bring in oxygen to the rest of your body.
  • Methacholine Challenge – a test used for asthma testing showing how much air you are able to blow out of your lungs and how quickly.
  • Exercise Oximetry test - A simple test to monitor oxygenation while walking for 6 minutes and applying oxygen if needed.
  • Car Seat Trial – a test to ensure the safety of newborn babies using car seats by monitoring breathing and oxygenation for an hour while the infant is in the car seat. This car seat trial is completed for newborns under 36 weeks gestation and any newborn who could not pass testing while in the hospital.

We work with our patients together, toward one goal, to provide the highest level of care possible. No matter what brings you to the Respiratory Department, you'll receive personalized attention, and you'll work with people who care. Our experienced and qualified staff will address any concerns you might have, and we will provide the best possible care.

Graham Health System provides high-tech care performed in a compassionate setting, close to home. If your doctor has requested a respiratory test for you, please call Graham Health System at 309-647-5240, ext. 2860 to schedule your appointment.

Common Respiratory (Lung) Disease Process: 

Asthma- A chronic respiratory disease that can affect people of all ages but typically starts in childhood. For more information on Asthma, you may visit the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America website at

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) - COPD is a group disease process that includes Emphysema, and Chronic Bronchitis. Obstructive diseases make exhalation of air hard, and during acute attacks inhaling air may be difficult as well. 

Alpha 1-Antitrypsin- a genetic disorder that causes an emphysema like process. To learn more about Alpha 1 Antitrypsin disorder please visit the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website at

Cystic Fibrosis- a genetic disorder that affects the lungs by causing increased mucous production. To learn more about Cystic Fibrosis, you may visit the CF Source website at

Pneumonia- an acute bacterial infection of the lungs and alveoli (air sacs). To learn more about pneumonia, you may visit the American Lung Association website at

Pulmonary Edema- a chronic process that causes excess fluid in the lungs. To learn more about pulmonary edema, you may visit the following website:

Tuberculosis- a chronic condition that causes multiple pulmonary problems as it progresses, primarily coughing up blood. For more information on tuberculosis please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at

Pulmonary Hypertension- elevated blood pressure in the lungs, causing decreased levels of oxygen in the blood. 

Interstial Lung Disease- a group of lung processes that cause problems to the interstitium, or part of the lungs anatomic structure. Includes idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Pulmonary Function Tests help healthcare providers diagnose lung disorders

What are pulmonary function tests?

Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) are non-invasive tests that show how well the lungs are working. The tests measure lung volume, capacity, rates of flow, and gas exchange. The information gathered from the tests can help your healthcare provider diagnose and decide the course of treatment for certain lung disorders.

There are 2 types of disorders that cause problems with air moving in and out of the lungs:

  • Obstructive This is when air has trouble flowing out of the lungs due to resistance. This causes a decreased flow of air.
  • Restrictive This is when the chest muscles can’t expand enough. This creates problems with air flow. 

The PFT is actually a series of 5 different tests:

  • Spirometry measures the rate of air flow and estimates lung size. For this test, you will breathe multiple times, with regular and maximal effort, through a tube that is connected to a computer. Some people feel lightheaded or tired from the required breathing effort.

  • Plethsmography (Lung volume) tests are the most accurate way to measure how much air your lungs can hold. The procedure is similar to spirometry, except that you will be in a small room with clear walls. Some people feel lightheaded or tired from the required breathing effort.

  • Lung diffusion capacity assesses how well oxygen gets into the blood from the air you breathe. For this test, you will breathe in and out through a tube for several minutes without having to breathe intensely. You also may need to have blood drawn to measure the level of hemoglobin in your blood.

  • Maximum Inspiratory and Expiratory Pressures are tests to measure the strength of the accessory muscles of the lungs. The two separate tests are similar to Spirometry except when you will use maximal effort with valves blocked during inspiration and again on expiration.

Normal values for PFTs vary from person to person. The amount of air inhaled and exhaled in your test results are compared to the average for someone of the same age, height, sex, and race. Results are also compared to any of your previous test results. If you have abnormal PFT measurements or if your results have changes, you may need other tests.

Why would I need a pulmonary function test?

There are many different reasons why pulmonary function tests (PFTs) may be done. They are sometimes done in healthy people as part of a routine physical. Or you may have a PFT if your healthcare provider needs help to diagnose you with a health problem such as:

  • Allergies
  • Respiratory infections
  • Trouble breathing from injury to the chest or a recent surgery
  • Chronic lung conditions, such as asthma, bronchiectasis, emphysema or chronic bronchitis, the diseases that make up the group called COPD.
  • Asbestosis, a lung disease caused by inhaling asbestos fibers
  • Restrictive airway problems from scoliosis, tumors, or inflammation or scarring of the chest wall
  • Sarcoidosis, a disease that causes lumps of inflammatory cells around organs such as the liver, lungs, and spleen
  • Scleroderma, a disease that causes thickening and hardening of connective tissue 

PFTs may be used to check lung function before surgery or other procedures in patients who have lung or heart problems, who are smokers, or who have other health conditions. Another use of PFTs is to assess treatment for asthma, emphysema, and other chronic lung problems. Your healthcare provider may also have other reasons to advise PFTs. 

Methacholine Challenge Test (bronchial provocation)  

The bronchial provocation test evaluates how sensitive the airways in your lungs are. During the test, a spray called methacholine will be inhaled at up to 10 separate levels. A spirometry breathing test is done after you inhale the spray at each level. Spirometry can show how much air you can breathe in and out. It also shows how fast you can breathe in and out. The spirometry results are compared before and after you inhale the spray to see what changes there are in your breathing. 

This lung function test for asthma is more commonly used in adults than in children. It might be performed if your symptoms and screening spirometry do not clearly or convincingly establish a diagnosis of Asthma. Methacholine is an agent that, when inhaled, causes the airways to spasm (contract involuntarily) and narrow if asthma is present. During this test, you inhale increasing amounts of methacholine aerosol mist before and after spirometry. The methacholine test is considered positive, meaning asthma is present, if the lung function drops by at least 20%. A bronchodilator is always given at the end of the test to reverse the effects of the methacholine. 

Exercise oximetry test

This test is done by using a pulse Oximeter to measure the patient’s level of dissolved oxygen in the blood. The patient will walk for 6 minutes at a normal pace while having pulse Oximeter readings done continuously. At any point that the patients oxygen level drops below 88%, oxygen will be given to the patient until pulse Oximeter gets above 90% again.  


Abigail Greaves, MPH, RRT-NPS

Director of Respiratory & Sleep Services

(309) 647-5240 ext. 2510