Asthma is a common, complex, costly chronic disease that affects more than 9 million children under age 18 in the United States. It causes hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and several thousand preventable deaths each year, and results in overall healthcare costs for children in excess of $20 billion. Within Hamilton County, Ohio, one in six children has been diagnosed with asthma, a figure that increases significantly for children who live below the poverty line.
The medical center’s 2015 strategic plan calls for the hospital to lead, advocate and collaborate to improve the health of local children with asthma. Work to improve the health of children with asthma started in 2008 through the Asthma Improvement Collaborative and the Asthma Inpatient Task Force. As a result, there have been significant changes in how we care for children with asthma within and outside the hospital.
During a hospital admission, families undergo a standardized asthma risk assessment that guides individualized referrals to promote optimal care after discharge, including a Home Health Pathway to support care and self-management, referral to an asthma specialist and referral to a home environmental risk identification and abatement program. Patients also leave the hospital with medications in hand to manage their asthma.
In addition, high-risk Cincinnati Children’s primary care patients work with an asthma care coordinator to reduce barriers to optimal care. In partnership with Cincinnati Public Schools, the Cincinnati Health Department and Growing Well, we have worked to develop a screening process to identify children attending Cincinnati Public Schools with inadequately controlled asthma. To accelerate improvement in asthma health, we will begin more in-depth work with one of the neighborhoods where asthma is a significant health issue.
Starting with the neighborhood of Avondale, near where our main campus is located, our goal is to create an integrated asthma program that engages schools, other primary care providers and the broader community, resulting in measurably improved outcomes for children with asthma.
Mona Mansour, MD, and Carolyn Kercsmar, MD, are dedicated to leading the population health initiative to help raise awareness and improve the lives of children with asthma in Hamilton County.