Donald J. Artes, a Sinai Hospital pediatric respiratory therapist who was known as a skilled clinician and administrator, died May 24 of complications from an infection at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The Fullerton resident was 54.
"He was a great man for sure. He was an inspiration to everyone at Sinai, and he always had the right attitude and sense of humor, no matter what the circumstances as he faced Crohn's and kidney disease," said David R. Madden, manager of the respiratory department at Sinai Hospital, whom Mr. Artes had hired at the University of Maryland Medical Center in 1996.
The son of an insurance salesman and an insurance company officer manager, Donald James Artes was born in Baltimore and raised on Catalpha Road in Hamilton.
During his high school years, he worked for a teacher at Northern High School as a laboratory technician. There, he met Lois Jean Horrocks, whom he married in 1981.
After graduating in 1977 from Archbishop Curley High School, he worked as a manager at White Coffee Pot Junior in Northwood, Moravia and Pikesville.
In 1978, Mr. Artes went to work at the University of Maryland Medical Center, where he worked in the neonatal, pediatric and medical intensive care units and with the pediatric transport team.
Mr. Artes trained for and became a certified respiratory therapist with the National Board of Respiratory Care. Three years later, he became a registered respiratory therapist. Since 1992, he had been a neonatal, pediatric and respiratory care specialist.
"The specialist distinction was particularly noteworthy as Don was one of the first in the country to receive certification, on March 14, 1992," said Ryan Artes, a nephew who lives in the city's Mount Vernon neighborhood.
He later earned an associate's degree from the Community College of Baltimore County in Essex and a bachelor's degree in business management in 1998 from Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kan.
While working at the University of Maryland Medical Center, Mr. Artes earned a reputation for being a skilled clinician as well as for developing hospital procedures. He also played a leading role in putting the hospital respiratory policies and procedures manual into an electronic format.
Since 2005, Mr. Artes had been on the staff of Sinai Hospital, where he was a member of the pediatric transport team.
"Don always tried to make lives better for the patients, family members and the staff. He was extremely knowledgeable," said Mr. Madden, who added that Mr. Artes had mentored him. "You have to be grateful to have someone like Don in your life."
Mr. Artes had a special touch when it came to working with young patients.
"Don's specialty was pediatric respiratory therapy, and he had a great impact in bringing a sense of humor to a sick child. Not many have that ability," said Mr. Madden. "He brought a sense of calmness to them and could explain the process, which in turn gave a sense of security to those kids. He made them feel that they were at home."
He added: "And even after they left the hospital, he stayed in involved with them and their families."
Ryan Artes said that his uncle kept every letter he received from his patients and families in a drawer near his bed.
Mr. Artes had been a longtime volunteer with Ecuadent, an international team that travels to Ecuador to provide medical and dental support to underprivileged children.
"During an early trip, Don identified a need for children going into surgery, as well as their siblings, to have something to hold onto during this process," his nephew said.
To help, Mr. Artes and a daughter, Rachel E. Artes, who lives in Nottingham, started a program called "Bears and Books for Buddies" at Fullerton Elementary School.
"Children at the school collected stuffed animals, and funds from the school's annual book fair were used to purchase books printed in Spanish to send abroad," his nephew said.
"Don personally spent a lot of time making shipping arrangements for these parcels to ensure timely arrival for children and their siblings," said Mr. Artes.
Mr. Artes built further interest in Ecuadent through the slide shows he presented to students at Fullerton Elementary with the goal of establishing a connection between children in "such disparate locations and conditions," his nephew said.
Largely because of the encouragement and support of co-workers at Sinai, Mr. Artes was nearly 50 when he began training and running. During the last four years, he ran numerous 5Ks, 10Ks and half-marathons.
He also completed one marathon and two Celebration Triathlons in 2010 and 2011, and the Marine Corps Marathon, also in 2011. He enjoyed running the 10K Race for Our Kids at Sinai Hospital with his two sons.
The last event Mr. Artes participated in this year was the 5K Kidney Walk at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.
Mr. Artes attended Hiss United Methodist Church, 8700 Harford Road, Parkville, where services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday.
In addition to his wife, a laboratory technician and teacher at the Community College of Baltimore County in Essex, and his daughter, Mr. Artes is survived by two sons, Daniel M. Artes of Dundalk and Joel T. Artes of Nottingham; three brothers, Lawrence Artes of Timonium, Raymond Artes of Pikesville and Martin Artes of Hamilton; a grandson; and many other nieces and nephews.