First 5 grant boosts Community’s asthma program for children

Community Medical Centers received $60,000 in grant money from First 5 Fresno County for the Community Asthma Education and Management Center. This grant is a continuation of the $200,000 grant the center received in early 2009 for its Early Childhood Asthma Program.

The asthma program offers information and support for families with children suffering from asthma, focusing on teaching parents and children about asthma’s symptoms, treatments, environmental triggers and how to manage the affects of asthma in their daily lives. Fresno County has been called California's asthma capital: nearly one in three children in Fresno County suffer from asthma—twice as many as the state average, according to the California Department of Health. The rate of children visiting the emergency room in Fresno County for asthma-related symptoms is 60 percent higher than the rate statewide.

“No one is offering everything we are accomplishing through this grant,” said Patti Burton, certified asthma educator and case manager for Community Medical Center’s Asthma Education and Management Program. The services provided include: one-on-one family education and educational materials, case management, Exhaled Nitric Oxide Testing, Pulmonary Function Screening Spirometry, Asthma Action Plans for children and families and community awareness and education.

One service specific to the early childhood program is home assessments provided by the grant. A Community health worker identifies home triggers and offers suggestions and remedies.

Since program implementation, the early childhood program has received several recognitions. It has been considered a model program on a national level and was listed as one of the active community asthma programs in the nation at the National Asthma Forum Summit in Washington DC in 2010.

“It is exciting to see the outcomes of the grant,” said Kendra Rogers, Executive Director of First 5 Fresno County. “First 5 is very proud of our partnership with Community Medical Centers. It is wonderful to see their commitment to children ages 0 to 5 especially those in serious need.”

To date, The Community Asthma Education and Management Center has reached out to more than 350 families, enrolled 133 children and conducted at least 50 home visits for environmental assessments.

“Without the financial support of First 5 Fresno County, our asthma program would not be able to help nearly as many Fresno children and families suffering from asthma,” Burton said. “We are ever grateful to First 5 Fresno County for recognizing the importance of these interventions for the children 0 to 5 years in our communities and continuing their funding.”

This story was reported by Katie Whitney. She can be reached at MedWatchToday@communitymedical.org.