Community receives nearly $300,000 from First 5 Fresno County

Community Medical Centers received nearly $300,000 in grant money from First 5 Fresno County for its work in providing medical care to children ages 0 to 5 years old. The Community Asthma Education and Management Center and Level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) each received grants.

The asthma center received a two-year gift for its early childhood asthma program, an educational program offerering parents information and support in caring for their children with asthma. The program focuses on teaching families about asthma’s symptoms, treatments and environmental triggers.

“Asthma symptoms can happen as early as in a newborn infant and irreversible changes can happen before the age of two,” said Patti Burton, certified asthma educator and respiratory care case manager at the asthma center. “It is good to get it under control early. Getting kids treated right away is so worth it.”

 Dr. Maries Joseph, associate professor of pediatrics with UCSF Fresno, designed the early childhood asthma program to target early diagnosis, education and environmental aspects and prevention of asthma.

“We follow a large number of young asthmatics,” Dr. Joseph said. “There are no other programs that serve childhood asthmatics in such numbers, and from the underprivileged segment of Fresno's population. Our proposal had clear objectives to target this population with effective approach with clinical, educational and community environmental components.” 

The money will also be used to purchase an exhaled nitric-oxide machine, and hire a health educator. The machine will measure inflammation of lung tissues and will remain in the clinic past the two years this money was gifted by First 5. Community's health educator will go to homes to help identify asthma triggers.

Gloria Garcia, chief program officer at First 5 Fresno County, said she decided to support Community based on the county’s need to address asthma in young children. “This money will go to support asthma education in both a clinical and home setting,” Garcia said.

“The money allows us to go into the home and do an environmental assessment and intervention,” Burton said.

The asthma center matched, in kind, the amount of money given by First 5 Fresno County to support its purchases and programs.

Community Regional’s NICU received funds to purchase a portable medical ultrasound unit that will be used exclusively between the NICU and the imaging center.

“Having this new ultrasound unit will keep waiting time down for mothers and babies making important medical decisions, saving hours of time in some cases,” said Lynn Emas, director of NICU and pediatrics, and interim director of maternal child services.

“For babies that end up in the NICU, one of the best ways to help them is to make sure that right there from that very fragile birth they have the support they need,” said Kendra Rogers, deputy director for First 5 Fresno County. “Given Community Regional’s growth and the increase in babies that are seen there, it is important that they have the tools to meet the needs of these special babies.”

Community delivers 60% of Fresno County’s babies, drawing in patients from 15 other Valley hospitals because of its expertise.

The ultrasound unit, which weighs just six pounds, will help provide accurate bedside diagnoses in critical life-saving situations.

“The award fits with our mission to continuously strive to provide quality services for children ages 0 to 5 and their families,” Garcia said.

Jennifer Mastro reported this story. She can be reached at