Kids’ in-school asthma program may expand soon

By Betsy Friauf

Asthma Program

 

“Asthma 411” helps children avoid the emergency room and stay in school if they have an asthma attack.

The pilot program, a collaboration between UNT Health Science Center and Fort Worth Independent School District, was so successful that plans are being laid to expand it. FWISD, JPS Health Network and Cook Children’s are working toward using Asthma 411 in schools with the greatest need, with an eye to expanding it district-wide.

Nationally, 9.3 percent of children have asthma. In sad contrast, by age 9, one-quarter of Tarrant County kids are diagnosed with it.

The Asthma 411 project, which ended in 2015, allowed school nurses to keep breathing-treatment equipment in their office. With parents’ prior permission, the nurse could give kids a treatment during an asthma attack – preventing most 911 calls and emergency room visits for these children, and greatly reducing absences.

It changed the landscape for Forest Oak Middle School Nurse Andrea Smith.

“It often happens that even if a child has an inhaler, it’s been left at home or it’s empty,” she said. “When you have a child in your office gasping for breath while you wait for someone to arrive with an inhaler, or for a Medstar ambulance, you just hurt for them. It gave me peace of mind knowing I had an intervention to help the child.”

During the pilot at two schools, Eastern Hills Elementary and Forest Oak Middle, results were impressive:

  • Calls to 911 for asthma emergencies fell from 19 to 1.
  • Asthma-related absences dropped 51 percent.

Asthma 411 has earned national recognition as well. Spearheading the pilot was the UNTHSC Office of Professional and Continuing Education, which has been honored with national awards for Asthma 411 and has shared the program with health care professionals across the nation.

To learn more about Asthma 411, contact Andrew Crim, UNTHSC Executive Director of Professional and Continuing Education.

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