Atlanta, GA,
11:00 AM

Respiratory Therapy Supervisor Explains Shepherd Center's Unique Approach to Respiratory Care

Kelley Taylor, RCP, A.S., and her team frequently provide some of the most urgent initial care to patients.

Q: How do you describe the role and importance of respiratory therapy at Shepherd Center?

A: We’re often first on the scene when patients arrive. When a patient has a spinal cord injury (SCI), depending on the level of injury, breathing can become the most important issue – and the scariest – facing a patient and their family. They lean on us, especially in the beginning, more than anyone else. Patients often have little or no use of their diaphragm at first. So we become their diaphragm, through ventilator management or coughing assistance, clearing their airways. Bottom line, our job is to keep them breathing, and to get them breathing on their own. That has to happen before physical recovery can begin.

Q: How is respiratory therapy at Shepherd Center different from how it’s practiced in most hospital settings?

A: Well, it’s about 100 percent different, clinically, than most everywhere else. We practice patient-specific care, rather than protocol-based care. That means we treat each patient based on their specific situation, rather than following the same procedures for everyone. We do it because it works very well. But it’s different from what’s taught in most schools or practiced at other places. I know when I started here, I had to forget everything I knew about respiratory therapy – and I was a veteran.

Q. Do you believe Shepherd Center’s approach will be utilized more often at schools and hospitals in the future?

A: I certainly hope so. I do see it changing slowly at other care facilities. I’d say we get calls from about three or four places a month, asking how and why we do our ventilator management this way. We actually go out to some of those facilities now and teach others how to adopt this approach.

Q: What’s the best part of your day on the job?

A: I love going around and seeing patients – checking on their progress and making them smile, which is not hard to do at Shepherd Center. There’s a lot of smiling around here!


Gulf State College

(Panama City, Florida)

Member, American Association for Respiratory Care

Member, National Board for Respiratory Care


  • Trait she’s best known for among her staff? Her singing. “I sing all day,” Kelley says. Her specialty is using her Southern accent to convert R&B songs into country ballads. “You’d have to ask my staff if it’s a talent or a passion!”
  • Kelley’s husband, Malik, is an industrial tailor who has also created has his own clothing line.
  • Kelley grew up in Panama City, and the Gulf Coast is still her favorite weekend getaway. Her favorites are New Orleans and anywhere with sand.
  • She has two “fur kids” – a pug named Brutus and a chihuahua named Fancy. “Both names fit them quite well,” she says.

Interviewed by Phillip Jordan
Photos by Louie Favorite

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.