Local respiratory therapist uses art to inspire patients

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- A local respiratory therapist’s not-so hidden talent is giving her patients a new perspective on the importance of lung health.

One woman's piece of art is hoping to inspire people to live a healthier life. And while you typically wouldn't think of a hospital when it comes to stain glass art, a lab on the second floor of Mayo Clinic Health System was the perfect location for it.

Day-to-day, Maureen O’Donnell is a lead respiratory therapist, but on the evenings and weekends- an artist emerges.

“I took a class, a long time ago, and I do work on a few pieces here and there,” says O’Donnell.

O’Donnell learned how to create stained glass artwork, a talent that’s exceeding its common purpose.

When patients entered the Pulmonary Function Testing Room where Maureen works, “Everybody would come in and complained that there was no window and they go, ‘How can you work in this place all day?’” says O’Donnell.

So when Maureen found out the department would be moving to the 2nd floor, she saw a “window” of opportunity.

“You know I'm a respiratory therapist, so I like it if people take care of their lungs, and I thought well maybe if they saw a nice, pretty set of lungs, they would maybe think a little more about taking care of their own,” she says.

Today O’Donnell’s stained glass lungs hang in the window of the lab as patients undergo testing.

“One of the pulmonologist said ‘well it looks anatomically correct, Maurine,’” laughs O’Donnell.

“I don't know that it makes the test any better for them, but you know, we have a little something to talk about prior,” she says.

For Maureen, she hopes the piece of art will inspire her patients possibly change habits and live a healthier life.

“As pretty as the lungs are, you know, your own lungs are much more beautiful,” she says. “They do a lot for you and so you know I just hope that it would encourage them to protect them.”

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