NY City asthma effort works

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asthma effectsThe number of children with emergency asthma attacks at the city's public hospitals dropped nearly 20 percent following a two-year monitoring campaign waged by the Bloomberg administration, The Post has learned.

The "asthma-management plan" includes comprehensive medical treatment of asthmatic kids and a one-page primer given to parents to help track their children's conditions, said city Health and Hospitals Corp. President Alan Aviles.

The result: 3,610 fewer pediatric emergency visits for asthma in 2005 compared to 2003 - a drop of 19 percent.

And there were 800 fewer pediatric hospital admissions related to asthma, HHC officials said - a 21 percent reduction.

 

About 300,000 city kids have been diagnosed with asthma at some point in their lives, according to the city Health Department.

HHC oversees the city's 11 public hospitals, six diagnostic treatment centers and 100 neighborhood clinics.

Each pediatrician in the HHC network was given an action plan that includes guidelines to ensure that asthmatic kids get regular checkups and appropriate medication, and are administered breathing tests to detect the likelihood of attacks.

"More kids with asthma are getting appropriate medication. This is very important," Aviles said.

Better tracking keeps asthma in check and kids in better health - and in school.

"Asthma is the No. 1 chronic disease for children. It's the single greatest health-related reason for kids missing school," Aviles said.

Asthma also is the leading cause of hospitalization for children ages 14 and under.

He said better coordination with parents has been a big plus. The primer for parents advises them how to measure their child's breathing capacity with a flow meter, how to identify signs of a impending attack and when to call a doctor.

"We're spending a lot of time teaching this to our families. It makes a big difference on the child's health," Aviles said.

Better preventive measures for asthma also save the city money, because emergency visits and hospital admissions are extraordinarily expensive. Many HHC patients received Medicaid, or public heath insurance.

Asthma causes lung inflammation and chest tightening. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. There is no cure, but it can be treated with proper management and treatment.

The city Health Department said that while hospitalization rates among asthmatic children is down, it's still higher than the national average.

Asthma is a major problem among youths in much of the The Bronx, Harlem and the Williamsburg-Bushwick section of Brooklyn.

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