Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases for children in Philadelphia and throughout the United States. It is the inflammation of air passages from the mouth and nose to the lungs when exposed to triggers, making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms of asthma include coughing and wheezing, and in severe cases asthma can lead to death.
Although no cure exists for asthma, it can be managed with proper education. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Philadelphia is ranked eighth in its 2010 “Asthma Capitals” research on the most challenging places to live with asthma in the United States (more at http://www.aafa.org/pdfs/2010_AC_FinalPublicList.pdf). Twenty percent of children living in Philadelphia under five years of age have asthma. Children who live in inner city environments are exposed to both outdoor and indoor asthma triggers, such as smog, pollen, tobacco smoke, pet allergens, cockroaches and dust.
With the knowledge to help manage their child’s asthma, a caregiver can reduce the frequency of their child’s asthma attacks, avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency room, and reduce their child’s hospital admissions. Asthma Safe Kids provides caregivers with this knowledge. Asthma Safe Kids is an in-home asthma education program for caregivers of children under 18 years of age with asthma. The program is designed to help caregivers recognize and manage their child’s asthma symptoms, and recognize and eliminate (or reduce) asthma triggers in their own homes.
Currently NNCC staff partners with Keystone Mercy Health Plan to provide support to families on how to manage their child’s asthma through:
This pilot strives to keep families out of the emergency room and help avoid hospital admissions for asthma when possible.
Asthma Safe Kids education and assessment materials are based upon the American Lung Association’s Attack Asthma curriculum, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Home Environmental Assessment.
During the home visits, the outreach worker:
The program not only helps to improve the living conditions of the asthmatic child, but decreases the risks for other children in the household of developing asthma as well.
Asthma Safe Kids began in 2000 and has been administered in nurse-managed health centers located within the Philadelphia region including Temple Health Connection in North Philadelphia, and the Health Annex in West Philadelphia. Because of the success of the program in Philadelphia, the NNCC received funding in 2002 by the Environmental Protection Agency to expand the program to Greene County in southwestern Pennsylvania, and Mon County, West Virginia through a NNCC-member center, the Primary Care Center of Mt. Morris, in partnership with the Pennsylvania State Rural Connection, Rural Nursing Centers of Pennsylvania State University.
Nancy De Leon Link
Deputy Executive Director