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Asthma Collaborative celebrates successes

April 6, 2006

In the wake of a new report showing that asthma continues to be a huge problem in Maine and New England, the AH! Asthma Health Community Collaborative is celebrating its success here in greater Portland.  The 12 organizations involved are gathering to summarize their work over the past 18 months, sharing actual numbers that prove asthma can be beaten, and sharing the stories of real people whose lives have been improved.  They also will call for the dissemination of the approaches they have proven to work.

Maine has the highest rate of current childhood asthma (10.7%) of all New England states.  The problem is hitting minorities (blacks and/or hispanics) and poor people especially hard.  MaineHealth has demonstrated that the problem can be addressed successfully.  The AH! (Asthma Health) Program is a systematic, coordinated, community-based approach to asthma care.

The AH! Program has successfully demonstrated:

  • significant reductions in hospitalizations
  • significant reductions in emergency department visits
  • lower rates of absenteeism from work and school

The AH! Asthma Health Community Collaborative built on successes achieved earlier in physician offices and took them into the community.  Those participating include physician practices, clinics, child care providers, the City of Portland's Minority Health Program, Somali and Latino organizations, the Root Cellar, and Barber Foods (complete list can be found at the bottom on the page).

Some of the successes to be reported by the Collaborative partners include:

  • Use of controller medication among clients at Healthcare for the Homeless rose from 0% to 94%.
  • Use of controller medication among patients at the MMC Family Practice Center rose from 7% to 100%.
  • Noah's Ark Child Care Center completed an indoor air quality assessment and removed carpeting and mold.
  • An asthma helpline was established for the Somali and Latino communities in greater Portland, and two native-speaking outreach workers trained to help

In order for the gains demonstrated by the Collaborative to make a broad difference, several things must happen:

  • Research is needed to identify links between substandard housing and asthma and other respiratory conditions, and effective interventions developed to improve housing.
  • Funding for education and access needs to be increased
  • Programs that have been proven to make a difference should be used as models for the state
  • Help must reach the estimated 19,000 Maine children ages 0-18 who do not have health insurance, some 1,300 of whom likely do not have access to proper treatment

Participants in the AH! Asthma Health Community Collaborative (as of April 6, 2006)

MMC Family Practice Center, Portland
Mercy Primary Care, North Deering
Intermed Pediatrics, Yarmouth
Healthcare for the Homeless, Portland
Portland School-Based Health Center,
PROP Child and Family Services, Portland
Noah's Ark Child Care Center, Windham
Minority Health Program, City of Portland
Somali Health Care Program, Portland
Latino Health and Community Service
The Root Cellar, Portland
Barber Foods, Portland

Contacts: Julie Osgood, 541-7515 or Wayne Clark, 662-4405

AH! asthma camp for children
Health Information

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