At the Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland, 25% of patients have asthma, which is three times greater than the national average. Although all of the causes are not fully known, much of what accounts for high asthma prevalence stems from obesity, low socioeconomic status, air pollution, and environmental allergens. After speaking with two warm, engaging pediatricians and a health educator, we gained insight into what innovative research, tools, and technologies are being integrated into this particular clinic to combat pediatric asthma in underserved communities.
Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland is a great example of a medical institution that is using interactive education through models, pictures, and games to increase patient understanding of asthma and how to control it; building a community centered around asthma education through a summer camp to encourage self-management of their condition; and conducting research to improve medication adherence. The healthcare professionals at Children’s Hospital and Research Center work as a team and believe it takes an integrated approach to combat pediatric asthma. For instance, pediatricians, Dr. Jyothi Marbin and Dr. Dayna Long, believe the clinic runs effectively because their health educator, Christine Schudel, uses proactive and engaging methods to educate patients. In particular, Christine uses visual models that demonstrate how asthma constricts airways, pictures of different kinds of asthma inhalers, and an asthma video game called Quest for Code.
The asthma clinic incorporates comprehensive patient education and medical management. It assesses home life, such as asking if there are pets in the home or if family members smoke, and analyzes behavior, including asking patients to demonstrate how they use their spacers. This process helps to create a patient-specific asthma action plan.
In addition to these strategies, the hospital organizes Camp Breathe Easy, a four-day camp for 8 to 11-year-olds that incorporates asthma education, sports, and arts and crafts. Each year, 80 children attend the program, and many more children apply than can be accepted. This high demand to be in the camp implies that the program is achieving its primary goal: to get pediatric patients excited and passionate about managing their asthma. Dr. Marbin, Dr. Long, and Ms. Schudel are motivated to further improve pediatric asthma in their community. They hope to encourage medication adherence through games, social networking, GPS locators, or text reminders to create an even more comprehensive approach.
Through all of these innovative educational tools, Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland encourages both young patients and their parents to be more engaged in understanding and managing their asthma. It is very refreshing to know that multiple communities across the United States are working together toward healthier and more manageable lives for people living with asthma.