2022 Graduate Kristen Cerio

Every year we see students in respiratory therapy who run with an opportunity. Kristen Cerio is one of those students. In her final semester, Kristen chose a clinical rotation in leadership and was placed at Upstate University Hospital to work with Adrienne Hickey, Associate Director of Respiratory Care Services. Adrienne, who works on multiple projects for the hospital, introduced Kristen to the current array of issues. Kristen chose to work on the prevention of pressure-sore skin injuries can arise in patients who need to wear a tight-fitting mask to breathe.

For acutely-ill patients who struggle to breathe, a machine with a mask and a rushing flow of air to support breathing can provide incredible relief. These machines can satisfy a patient’s hunger to breathe difficulty and deter intubation, a more invasive support of a patient’s breathing. However, because the masks required for BiPAP (bilevel positive airway pressure) and CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines must seal against the face to deliver support to the breath, they can press tightly on a patient’s face. Redness across the bridge of the nose develops into a sunken mark develops into skin breakdown, and the patient is left with an uncomfortable wound.

Kristen studied the problem, diving into the research of pressure-sore prevention, including best practices and solutions attempted at other locations. Working with Adrienne, Kristen selected the best practices and policy options for Upstate—and the best means to educate staff and promote compliance with new policy.

By the end of the semester, Kristen made significant contributions in researching solutions, devising policy, instituting policy, and promoting change in the hospital. Healthcare workers throughout the hospital will become familiar with their promotional poster. Thus, Kristen will leave a mark—by leaving fewer marks on our patients. ~ Stephen Feikes, MA, RRT


Preparing and educating highly skilled health professionals 
to serve the future needs of our society.