Langley Memorial Hospital is one of only two Fraser Health Authority hospitals that does not offer complete lung function testing on-site, meaning many patients have to travel out of their community for accurate testing, says Dr. Rita Wittmann.

Life-changing testing equipment vital for Langley lung patients

Hospital Foundation, Auxiliary raise funds to provide patients with treatment close to home

For Brian Gilhooly and his family, Langley Memorial Hospital has always offered hope when they’ve had medical concerns.

When Brian’s wife needed minor surgery, it was performed here. Their son’s broken arm was treated in Langley’s ER. Even Brian’s Cystic Fibrosis diagnosis was possible because of the local hospital’s leading-edge DNA testing.

But when respirologist Dr. Rita Wittmann recently treated Brian for a serious lung infection he’ll have for the rest of his life, she had to refer him to another hospital for vital testing – adding considerable stress, cost and travel time.

“Langley Memorial is one of only two hospitals in the Fraser Health Authority that does not offer complete lung function testing on-site,” Dr. Wittmann explains. “This meant that Brian had to travel to Vancouver to get an accurate reading on whether his infection had affected his lungs.”

The current referral process also typically leaves patients with at least an eight-week wait.

“It took quite some time and a lot of energy to get to the other hospital,” Brian says. “It was quite difficult for me.”

Leading the way forward for lung patients

To ensure other patients don’t have the same experience as Brian, Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation and the Langley Memorial Hospital Auxiliary are purchasing a new body plethysmography machine for its pulmonary function lab (PFL) which will quickly analyze lung disorders from asthma and COPD to cystic fibrosis.

The plethysmography machine includes an air-tight box that allows patients to walk right in and sit down comfortably. The constant and controlled pressure inside the box is what makes advanced lung function tests possible.

Adding this vital piece of equipment means 2,000 patients a year – including Brian – will have advanced lung testing in the comfort of their local hospital.

The cost of that vital equipment, however, is $80,000, and that’s where you can help.

“The staff here are very dedicated,” Brian says. “They do a great job, but they just don’t have the equipment they need to properly diagnosis and treat.”

While the lab currently performs about 1,800 basic lung function patient tests per year, all Langley patients who require lung function testing beyond these basic tests are forced to travel to other hospitals.

PFL tests are non-invasive tests administered by respiratory therapists that show how well the lungs are working, measuring lung volume, capacity, rates of flow and gas exchange. Lung function tests include exercise testing, blood oxygen monitoring techniques and assessment for home oxygen. The lab also provides education to individuals with recently confirmed diagnoses of asthma and/or chronic obstructive pulmonary (lung) disease.

To contribute to this vital piece of testing equipment, contact the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation at 604-533-6422 or visit online at

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Registered Respiratory Therapist Ranj Gill at work in the Langley Memorial Hospital Pulmonary Function Lab.

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