Ruth Crawford is the director of nursing over Women’s and Children’s Services at INTEGRIS Health. She has been with the organization for 27 years, starting as a bedside nurse in the pediatric unit at INTEGRIS Health Baptist Medical Center.
“When I first started here, I didn’t know anything about cystic fibrosis,” Crawford admits. “But I had to learn quickly, as we routinely had a large population of young patients who seemed to be in and out of the hospital frequently because of the disease.”
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a disease that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs, digestive tract and other areas of the body. It is a life-threatening disorder that impacts children and young adults. (story continues below)
Crawford says because these patients were hospitalized many times a year, some for long durations, she and the other caregivers became very close with many of the CF families. She says it would break her heart when she would have to discuss end-of-life decisions when the disease progressed.
Just three decades ago, the average person with cystic fibrosis would live only to the age of 30, but now 50 years is typical and some patients with CF live into their 80s.
Thankfully because of medical breakthroughs and new medications, Crawford is happy to announce that INTEGRIS Health has not had a CF patient admitted to the hospital in over four years!
“That is amazing, if not miraculous,” she exclaims. “Now, I’m not saying the disease has gone away and I certainly don’t mean to minimize or downplay the hard work families are still doing at home to keep their children out of the hospital, but because of medications like Trikafta, CF kids are living longer and enjoying a better quality of life.”
Crawford recently received the 2023 Breath of Life Award from the Central/Western Oklahoma chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The honor is presented to individuals whose contributions breathe vitality and resilience into the lives of those affected by cystic fibrosis.
She encourages everyone to consider donating to the cause. “This is only the beginning. There are so many exciting things coming down the pike. Therapies and medications, like nothing we’ve ever seen before. We are so very close to finding a cure for this awful disease. Join me in continuing the fight, so that all CF kids can live to see more tomorrows.”
Click here to learn more or to donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.