Foundation awarded grant to address pediatric asthma in WNC

Published 4:51 pm Monday, December 14, 2009

Young children with asthma in Western North Carolina stand to breathe easier, thanks to a $96,838.36, two-year grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute awarded to Mission Healthcare Foundation.

The grant will fund an expansion of The Mission Asthma Disease Management program, which serves patients 18 and younger with moderate to severe asthma. The grant will enable the program to include children five years of age and younger.

We are pleased and thankful to be included as a national demonstration project, said asthma educator Melinda Shuler, grant administrator and regional clinical coordinator for the Asthma Disease Management Program at Mission. Our project will focus on case management and community education, specifically environmental irritants that trigger asthma in our youngest patients; we plan to collaborate with school systems and childcare settings throughout Western North Carolina, including the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

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The program provides services to the uninsured and/or underinsured, with the situation of the child and family taken into consideration. Patients are referred from physicians, emergency departments, school nurses and school social workers. Donald Russell, MD, is supervising physician.

Mission Healthcare Foundation is one of 13 organizations nationwide to receive two-year contracts as part of the NHLBIs National Asthma Control Initiative, a new effort of the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program to strengthen collaborative efforts among patients and families, health care providers, and other stakeholders committed to improving the management of asthma.

Each project will provide insight into practices that can enhance asthma control by implementing — at the community level key evidence-based recommendations: assess asthma severity; assess asthma control; schedule follow-up visits; use inhaled corticosteroids; use asthma action plans, and control environmental exposures.

Asthma is a common and often disabling condition that affects some 23 million Americans, including seven million children under the age of 18. Asthma accounts for more than 10 million missed work days and almost 13 million missed school days each year.

In North Carolina, 48.9 percent of female children and 66.3 percent of male children receive daily medication for asthma. Risk factors in Western North Carolina include high rates of mold, carbon monoxide and second hand smoke, all of which contribute to asthma and related health problems.

Combined, the contracts total $1.3 million. They will be administered by the Academy for Educational Development based in Washington, D.C., which serves as the contractor for the national initiative.

Our goal is to help people who have asthma lead longer, healthier, and fuller lives, thereby reducing asthmas toll on those who have it. These demonstration projects are aimed at tackling different barriers to quality asthma care, so patients and their families can improve asthma control and be active at work, school, and play, said Diana Schmidt, M.P.H., NAEPP Coordinator for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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