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Two Boston Health Organizations Recognized by EPA for Leadership in Asthma Care

Release Date: 06/21/2010
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – June 21, 2010) – Two Boston health care organizations have been recognized by EPA for outstanding leadership in improving the health of people living with asthma. The groups are Children’s Hospital Boston and Neighborhood Health Plan. They were among only five groups nationwide given this recognition by EPA.

The groups were presented the agency’s 2010 National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management. The awards were presented at a National Asthma Forum in Washington, D.C. on June 17 where hundreds of health-related organizations, researchers, and policy makers will gather to discuss effective community-based strategies to improve asthma programs and provide high-quality care.

Children’s Hospital Boston developed the Community Asthma Initiative (CAI) five years ago, in response to alarmingly high rates of asthma among children living in Boston’s urban neighborhoods, especially underserved children and families. CAI is a patient-centered program that provides bilingual in-home family asthma education, environmental assessments and remediation; Integrated Pest Management; and coordination with primary care providers, in conjunction with community education, outreach and advocacy. Care is provided and coordinated through a culturally appropriate case management model that identifies barriers to good asthma control and includes home visits conducted by nurses and/or community health workers, depending on the family’s needs. For CAI patients, asthma-related emergency department visits have dropped by 65 percent and hospitalizations have decreased by 81 percent.

Neighborhood Health Plan, founded in the late 1980s, was one of the nation’s first health plans to comprehensively address the health care needs of underserved populations. The Plan has developed an innovative Asthma Disease Management Program and offers an Asthma Home Visitation Program to all members living with asthma. The visitation program empowers patients to proactively manage their asthma by providing multilingual, low-literacy education to patients and their families during in-home environmental assessments and interventions. Over the past decade, the rates of annual asthma hospitalizations and emergency department visits for Neighborhood Health Plan’s asthma population have fallen by more than 30 percent.

"Asthma continues to be a major health issue for thousands of New Englanders. Many of the sufferers are those least able to protect themselves: children, and low-income urban citizens,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. "Both Children’s Hospital Boston and Neighborhood Health Plan have created innovative programs to make life easier for people with asthma. Coupled with EPA’s efforts to improve air quality, we’re trying to help reduce asthma in New England.”

Asthma is a chronic condition in which the narrowing of the bronchial tubes in the lungs leads to wheezing and difficulty breathing. Environmental factors – such as mold, mildew, pet dander, environmental tobacco smoke, cockroaches, dust mites, vehicle exhaust and industrial and power plant emissions – can exacerbate asthma symptoms.

Twenty-three million people in the United States, including 7 million children, suffer from asthma, which is one of the leading causes of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and school absenteeism for children. One of EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priorities is improving air quality, which has a substantial impact on people who suffer from asthma.

More information on EPA’s Asthma Program and award winners: http://www.epa.gov/asthma

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