When dealing with a long-term condition, the importance of continuing treatment by taking medication on schedule and as prescribed can become a hassle—particularly for asthma sufferers. Studies have shown that both children and adults with asthma struggle to maintain adequate care throughout their lifetime, which can have deadly consequences. This is made even worse when faced with an 80% low-income African American patient population, of whom the vast majority rely on Medicaid coverage.

This is the problem facing many patients at Swope Health in Kansas City, Missouri. "So many things get in the way of routinely visiting a clinic and sticking to a treatment plan," said Luningning Ocampo Haluck, M.D., director of pediatrics at Swope Health. "I became a pediatrician to fix everything, everybody. In the case of asthma, I just want my patients to be able to breathe. It's not asking much."

Thanks to funding by the Kansas Health Foundation and John W. and Effie E. Speas Memorial Trust, Dr. Haluck was inspired to align her clinic with American Lung Association's Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma Initiative in July 2017. Upon committing to the project, she and her entire staff received extensive in-person training on a 10-step quality improvement program to help support asthma management and care for children.

"A large part of it is recognizing asthma symptoms and reducing exposure to triggers, like environmental allergens and household pets," Dr. Haluck added. Unfortunately, common asthma triggers range from respiratory infections, allergens, irritants, exercise and even emotions.

"We became the teachers," said Dr. Haluck. "Through building our capacity to diagnosis, treat, and educate, we are now better able to coach our patients and their parents on what medications they need, when to take them, and how to make them a regular part of their day-to-day. It's a clinic-wide effort and I'm grateful to my staff for helping to close the circle on asthma care for our families' benefit."

Dr. Haluck is not only an asthma specialist, but she is also an asthma patient. And her 11-year-old son, Jeremiah, has asthma as well. "No parent should have to worry to the extent that many asthma parents do. Asthma won't go away; however, it can be controlled. It's my job to bridge this knowledge gap and provide my patients with every possible resource that exists because they deserve it. American Lung Association's asthma program has been key to our success in reducing asthmatic patients' acute hospital stays," concluded Dr. Haluck.

Our Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma Initiative recently exceeded 400 clinics across the country and with each new clinic, the positive impact reaches families further and faster. To learn more, please visit Lung.org/enhancingcare.

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