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By Regina Perry MSN, FNP-BC, Nurse Practitioner, Community Health Dept, Memphis Regional Children’s Health Project
Last month, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) released its “2011 Asthma Capitals” in the United States. The city of Memphis was listed in third place and as a resident of the Memphis area and a health care provider at CHF’s Memphis Regional Children’s Health Project, this news is quite worrisome. Many children living in this city and surrounding areas, particularly those who are poor and living in rural communities, are likely suffering from asthma and don’t have the necessary health care and medications needed to manage their condition.
We’ve known for a while that asthma rates in Memphis were high. So, in 2009, our team embarked on a mission to bring CHF’s Childhood Asthma Initiative to our program in order to help our kids get properly diagnosed with asthma and learn how to treat this condition. Through the Childhood Asthma Initiative, children with asthma have access to the highest quality care. Clinical visits and medication, asthma severity assessment and allergy skin testing are supplemented by in-depth health education, including access to Children’s Health Fund’s Family Asthma Guide. All of these efforts help children and their families actively manage asthma symptoms. In addition, we provide support for asthma patients and their families, who often experience the anxiety and depression that accompanies chronic illness.
Our progress with this initiative has been fantastic. Many children are learning how to recognize triggers and control their symptoms. Our case manager has assisted numerous families with getting the medications they need to control asthma, regardless of whether or not the family has insurance (as many of you know, asthma control medicines are quite expensive). Through this initiative, we have also helped bridge the gap between primary care providers and patients. Because of transportation barriers, many of our patients can not regularly get to their primary care physician, but because we are available to these patients at their schools, they are able to visit us regularly during the school day. There, we can monitor and manage their symptoms. We also provide ongoing education and medications as needed.
Nurse Practitioner, Regina Perry, with one of the many little patients she sees on mobile medical unit.
It’s wonderful to know that my job helps families combat asthma. We may be a long way from solving the problem, but every little bit helps children in the Memphis area live a healthier life.