EmpireStateNews.net: New York COPD coalition releases action plan

November 5, 2010

NEW YORK - The New York COPD Coalition today released the New York COPD Action Plan in response to the growing burden of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and the inadequate attention the disease has received to date. COPD refers to the group of diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, which cause airflow blockage and destruction of the air sacs triggering breathing-related problems. The Action Plan is a blueprint for identifying the many undiagnosed COPD patients in New York and ensuring that individuals affected by COPD have the information and resources they need to best manage their disease.

The NY COPD Action Plan was developed by the New York COPD Coalition, a group of strategic partners enlisted by the American Lung Association in New York and the COPD Foundation, whose objective is to initiate a statewide campaign that addresses COPD. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in America and claims the lives of more than 6,000 New Yorkers each year. The NY COPD Action Plan will be implemented over a 5-year period.

"As a physician, I see far too many patients living with COPD and still I know that there are many more patients out there who could benefit from treatment but are unaware they have the disease," said Dr. Irwin Berlin, Chief of the Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine Division at Elmhurst Hospital Center and chair of the Board of Directors of American Lung Association in New York. "That's why it is so important that we raise awareness and work to optimize prevention, diagnosis and treatment for COPD. In doing so, we will greatly improve the quality of life for patients who suffer from COPD and encourage healthier lifestyles among those at risk."

The chief goals set forth in the NY COPD Action Plan include:

• Optimizing the prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment of COPD in outpatient and hospital settings in the state of New York.

• Improving and expanding COPD surveillance and research.

• Improving COPD awareness and education among patients, healthcare professions, executive and legislative bodies, employers and health plans.

• Improving the quality of life of COPD patients by enhancing legislative funding and policies directed at maximizing resources for COPD in New York.

To ensure these objectives are achieved, the NY Action Plan identifies several key strategies and action items. The Plan also includes specific performance measures to keep progress toward achieving plan objectives on track.

"One major problem we have is inadequate surveillance," said Dr. Byron Thomashow, Co-Chair of the New York COPD Coalition, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the COPD Foundation and Medical Director of the Jo-Ann LeBuhn Center for Chest Disease on the Columbia University campus. "One of the actions we will take to correct this problem is to advocate for creation of a dedicated COPD Division in the Bureau of Chronic Diseases at the state Department of Health. By encouraging greater government focus on this disease, we will be in a better position to assess COPD's toll and ensure we have the necessary tools to help patients."

In addition to being the fourth leading cause of death in America and claiming more than 6,000 lives in New York State each year, COPD is also costly. National costs were projected to be approximately $49.9 billion in 2010 to cover the direct and indirect expenditures associated with the disease (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Morbidity and Mortality: 2009 Chartbook on Cardiovascular, Lung and Blood Diseases). Not only is there substantial room for improvement in public, payer, and health care provider awareness, there are opportunities for further action in preventing and addressing risk factors and in ensuring appropriate treatment and management of COPD.