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Pete Rocha Makes A Soulful Connection

Respiratory Therapist Uses Music To Connect With His Patients

You can expect to hear all sorts of noises on a nursing unit. Old school blues is not one of them. But if CVPH Respiratory Therapist Pete Rocha is with a patient, it’s a safe bet that you could hear the salty sounds of his acoustic guitar.  Pete, a gifted musician, is by day a valued member of the patient care team and by night a husband and father of two. Committed to both family and his career, he finds a way to incorporate music into all aspects of his life.

“There are a few patients who are regulars -- they are admitted to the hospital frequently. If there’s time, I’ll go and play music with them.  I think it helps take the institutional feeling away and makes the place more human,” he explained.  

Some of Pete’s patients play along with him while others simply enjoy the music. Either way, this 14 year health care veteran has found a unique way to connect with his patients. “I’ve had patients come to one of our gigs and I really enjoy that,” he said.  Pete has been active member of the local music scene for some time.

The Respiratory Therapy Department has, in the past, used music to enhance the care they provide to patients.  Patients who participate in pulmonary rehabilitation have benefited from the musical skills of several members of the Respiratory Therapy team.  Elizabeth Ashworth, RT who coordinates the pulmonary rehab program recruited Bob Butterfield, RT and Pete to help the Pulmonary Rehabilitation group learn to play the harmonica -- which can improve lung function.  Bob plays the harmonica professionally and has used those skills to teach patients the basics. Pete provided guitar backup.

Pete understands the power music has to bring people together and has seen how it can help them feel better. “Maybe they are not feeling great when we start playing but usually, by the time we’re done, they are feeling a little bit better,” he said.