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Addressing an Urgent Need
Nearly five million U.S. children suffer from asthma, which results in three million doctor visits and 200,000 hospitalizations per year, according to the American Academy of Asthma and Immunology.
To address this urgent health problem, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh teamed up with one of the nation’s leading pediatric hospitals, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Last year in Pittsburgh, a community needs assessment revealed a high prevalence of untreated asthma in seven communities. In partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Division of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program expanded its services to include pediatric asthma services on the vehicle. Dr. Jay Kolls, chief of the UPMC division and director of the program, is part of a multidisciplinary team (including a pediatric nurse practitioner and a respiratory therapist) that travels from school to school to provide medical treatment.
Kolls’ team selected one school for a pilot program to test the services for asthma patients. Among middle school students with identified risk factors, 89 percent were diagnosed with asthma. More than 80 percent needed asthma medications and equipment, which were provided at no cost. The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile team also developed an asthma action plan for each patient and worked closely with primary care providers for ongoing care. In addition, the clinic educated children, families and school nurses about asthma — in English and Spanish. Because the asthma pilot program was so successful, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program reached out to other communities.
“It’s clear that the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile’s asthma program is successfully identifying asthma and treating it early among the highest risk populations,” Kolls says. “We value our partnership and appreciate the overwhelming support we have received from RMHC and our local RMHC Chapter to improve the health and well being of the children of the Pittsburgh area for the past seven years.”