Asthma Is the Most Common Chronic Disease of Childhood, Affecting about 9 Million Kids in the United States
Take a deep breath. Hold it, then try to take another. It’s not easy. And it gives you some idea of what some 20 percent of children in our community experience when they have an asthma attack.
Asthma robs our children. It steals time that should be spent in school, sports and play. It steals time from parents, too − hours that should be devoted to work and family activities. And its drain on health care costs and our economy in general is staggering.
Like many health issues, asthma affects minority children in greater numbers. Surveys of our community show that the incidence of childhood asthma is 8 percent higher in the city of Cincinnati than in the community at large. There is growing evidence that urban environments contribute to the frequency and severity of asthma.
Control Is Key
Children with asthma become adults with asthma. It doesn’t go away. But it can be managed successfully. Ensuring this good management is why we formed the Asthma Improvement Collaborative (AIC) and our inpatient asthma workgroup. These teams focus on how we approach children with asthma when they come into our emergency department. They assess the child’s risk for future asthma attacks and teach the child and family how to better manage asthma on their own.
The AIC gives children admitted to the hospital an inhaler or sufficient medication to manage their asthma for 30 days. As a result, fewer than one half of the children return to the hospital within 30 days.
The Home Health Pathway
This service teaches kids and their families how to better care for their asthma at home. It is available to any child who has been seen for asthma at Cincinnati Children’s. Since the program began in January 2010, 281 children have used the service. Seventy percent of children who complete the program have well-controlled asthma.
A Primary Care Approach
Currently, 74 children are enrolled in care coordination through our Pediatric Primary Care Center. The children in this program typically had an emergency visit or hospital admission once every 173 days; now, those incidents occur only once every 224 days.
The key to the program’s success has been providing families with support and resources that allow them to better manage their child’s asthma on their own.
We can’t eliminate asthma altogether, but we are working to lessen its grip on our children. Our strategic plan states that by 2015, we will reduce our emergency visits and hospital admissions for asthma by one-third.