Friday, August 17, 2012 12:00 AM

Commitment to Community's asthma program first 5 renews

First 5 Fresno County renewed its commitment to Valley asthma sufferers by giving more than $110,000 to Community Regional Medical Center’s asthma program. This is the fourth consecutive year First 5 will fund the hospital’s Early Childhood Asthma Program.

Community Regional’s program screens, diagnoses and treats asthma in children five years old and younger. It also provides asthma education to families, physicians and groups working with young children. Each year it serves about 200 children and parents and about 40 professionals.

Asthma rates of children living in Fresno County are among the highest in the nation according to  the National Institutes of Health. Children are most susceptible to the disease, which can be triggered by air pollution, because their organs and immune systems are not fully developed.

“We see that health is one of the most important things children have,” said Zoua Vang, communications director for First 5. “Health is one of the cornerstone pieces to ensure that they have to be successful.”

In 2010, Fresno County children younger than 5 visited the emergency room 1,835 times because of their asthma, according to Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. However, Community Regional’s program is working to decrease the number of asthma-related emergency room visits.

“We’ve seen wonderful outcome data,” said Vang. “The goal is to decrease asthma deaths, lessen asthma attacks, lessen emergency room visits. And the information and data shows we’ve been able to.”

First 5 Fresno County continues to support Community Regional’s efforts because of program’s success, said Vang. Since 2009, First 5 Fresno County has given more than $434,864 to the hospital’s efforts to educate families and help children with asthma.

Created in 1998, First 5 Fresno County is a public organization that helps improve the lives of children in the county through funding programs and services. The organization aims to help create a network of services that ensure all children ages zero- to five-years-old are born healthy and grow healthy.

Nicole Germano reported this story. She can be reached at