Written by Breanna Hardy
The Central Valley is making strides in the asthma community for Asthma Awareness Month.
Central California Asthma Collaborative received the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Asthma Management Award for both its leadership and for promoting environmental asthma management as part of a comprehensive approach to asthma care, according to a press release.
The other winner of the award was Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego.
Central California Asthma Collaborative in south Fresno aims to improve underserved communities – primarily low-income, Hispanic and African American patients who are either insured by Medi-Cal or uninsured.
Though there is no cure for asthma, extensive evidence suggests that reducing exposure to indoor irritants and outdoor air pollution can prevent asthma attacks or lessen their severity.
The nonprofit works to reduce in-home environmental irritants and ensure access to asthma medications. It also coordinates doctor visits with health care providers.
In the Central Valley, 20% of school-age children suffer from asthma. Old homes play a significant role in environmental asthmas triggers, along with the Valley having the poorest outdoor air quality in the nation.
Central California Asthma Collaborative was established in 2011 to develop an in-home asthma care system for children in low-income communities. But over time, the demand has grown. The Collaborative has partnered with health plans to receive direct patient referrals for high-risk asthmatic patients. In response to Covid-19, the collaborative has used its Asthma Impact Model program to host virtual care visits. Because of the program, asthma-related hospitalizations by 70%, emergency visits by 81% and outpatient visits by 53%.
“Growing up with respiratory challenges in North Carolina, I know the struggle that millions of Americans suffer on a daily basis,” said EPA administrator Michael S. Regan. “I’m also keenly aware of how asthma disproportionately affects children of families living in underserved communities overburdened by pollution. Innovative programs like CCAC and RCHSD play a crucial role in combating this serious, sometimes life-threatening disease by tackling it at a community level.”
Over 24 million Americans live with asthma, including 5.5 million children. The EPA’s main goal is to reduce the national burden of asthma through research and regulatory measures, non-regulatory community-based technical assistance, outreach and education campaigns.