Parishes with the highest rates of asthma will soon receive help to decrease hospitalizations, emergency room and urgent care visits, and missed days of school and work due to asthma.
The Department of Health and Hospitals’ Bureau of Primary Care and Rural Health announced today that the Louisiana Asthma Management and Prevention Program (LAMP) received a $1.75 million competitive grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The grant, which will be funded at $350,000 a year for five years, will address asthma issues in four of the state’s nine public health regions centered around Baton Rouge (Region II), Monroe (VIII), New Orleans (I), and Shreveport (VII). Louisiana was one of 27 states to receive the core grant.
Grant dollars will primarily be used to provide asthma education and training to health care workers, giving them the latest information on diagnosing asthma, prescribing the proper treatments, and providing patients with the best asthma management plans possible. Overall, the funding will help asthmatics to best manage their conditions and eliminate health disparities related to asthma.
"Louisiana falls within the top quarter of states for asthma-related deaths, and this grant will help ensure that our providers have the tools and knowledge they need in order to effectively treat their patients," said LDH Secretary Alan Levine. "More than 200,000 Louisianians are living with asthma right now, and through education and effective disease management we can keep our people healthier and reduce the costs placed on our health care system."
The asthma management plans, which can be the most important element in keeping an asthmatic attack free, include instructions on everything from using prescriptions properly to when to go to a hospital for help. A full-time coordinator and a part-time educator will be hired through the grant in each of the four regions to manage the trainings, and each region’s asthma educator will be an expert on the latest developments in the field.
"Sometimes it means something as small as making sure patients know how to use their inhaler properly, which is part of their management plan. Other times it’s more complex," Mark Perry, the program manager of LAMP, said. "We want to make sure that all patients and providers understand the latest methods on asthma management."
The grant was achieved in part due to the hard work of the Louisiana Asthma Surveillance Collaborative, a statewide group with contributors from state agencies, hospitals, medical societies, and universities. The collaborative, which was facilitated by LAMP, produced a study in 2007 that examined the correlation between asthma attacks and missed days of work or school. The study concluded that while Louisiana scores better than the national average in most asthma indicators, there could be improvements in treatment and management that would help to improve the lives of asthmatics.
The results of the study helped to solidify the grant funding, which enables the collaborative to expand the survey from just two parishes to the entire state.
The grant will also allow LAMP to continue to promote education in local communities by offering community-based grants to carry out the five goals of the Louisiana State Asthma Plan:
- Increase asthma education to health care providers, clinicians, health educators and support staff.
- Assist LDH in developing a comprehensive asthma program by increasing the public’s awareness and knowledge of asthma.
- Improve the quality of life of asthmatics through advocacy and policy.
- Develop a comprehensive system of data surveillance to express the burden of asthma statewide and the contributing factors to this burden.
- Identify and eliminate health inequities related to asthma in Louisiana.
Asthma is a chronic lung disease characterized by acute episodes of coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. An estimated 200,000 adults in Louisiana currently suffer from asthma, and one in ten Louisiana households with children have at least one child with asthma.
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.