Breath of Fresh Air for Children with Asthma
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Breath of Fresh Air for Children with Asthma 

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Chesapeake, Virginia -  February 25, 2005 - The whistle, whistle, wheeeeeze of an oncoming asthma attack keeps many children out of school and is the leading cause of missed school days. Parents of children with asthma listen with dread as another attack unfolds, some almost surely will result in hospitalization or at a minimum, a doctors visit.

Not so for some Portsmouth, Virginia,  middle school children with asthmadue in part to Sentara Home Cares Services TeleCoach asthma program- the only one of its kind in Virginia and one of very few in the U.S.

Designed especially for kids, it is a unique combination of remote equipment with an award-winning asthma management program to improve childrens health.

And the home team is winning. Middle school kids in this program reduced missed school days by 61%, decreased emergency room visits by 70%, and decreased hospital admissions by 86%.

"Children, regardless of their chronic health issues, really need to be present at school. We have engaged kids to take an active role in their health, and its proven to work," says Rhonda Chetney, RN, director of clinical operations, Sentara Home Care Services.

Dressed as a "coach" located in the nurses office of Hunt-Mapp Middle School, the interactive system uses two-way live audiovisual capabilities. From her office about 11 miles away, a Sentara Home Care nurse dials the TeleCoach monitor at a pre-set time each week.

During the five-minute visit, the nurse asks the student questions such as Have you been taking your medicine or are you monitoring your peak air flows everyday? Equipped with a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff, TeleCoach allows the nurse to listen to the students lungs while teaching about seasonal asthma triggers and solutions.

"Im allergic to cleaning fumes, and now I know just to walk away from them," says 13-year-old Chantel Miles, who has been participating in the TeleCoach program for two years.

Chantel has been cheerleading for the last two years. Through the program, she has learned to recognize the signs of an oncoming asthma attack. "Now I know when to stop cheering and take my medicine," she said.

Chantels mother believes the program helps her daughter be more aware of her condition and the things she can do to manage it.

Sentara Home Care Services provides up to 200 scheduled and personalized televisits per year when students stop by the school nurses office to use their inhalers just before their physical education class once a week.

The program has scored phenomenal results and is now being offered to any student with asthma Hunt-Mapp Middle School. The plans are to expand this program to additional schools in the region.

Stats about Asthma

According to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website:

-Asthma, a chronic lung disease, affects about 17 million Americans.
-Annually nearly 500,000 Americans are hospitalized from asthma
-More than 5,000 die each year from asthma.
-Children are more likely to develop asthma than adults, especially inner-city children
-Asthma hospitalization rates in Portsmouth are well above Virginia rates according to 2004 Hampton Roads Community Health Assessment, commissioned by Sentara Health Foundation.

Important Asthma Triggers

-Secondhand cigarette smoke
-Dust mites
-Chalk dust
-Outdoor air pollution
-Cockroach allergens
-Pet dander
-Strenuous physical exercise
-Cold air
-High humidity

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