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Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting 13.8% of U.S. children and resulting in more school days missed than any other disease. Asthma disproportionately affects poor and minority children living in inner-city neighborhoods, and Chicago is demonstrated to be among the hardest hit cities. In some Chicago neighborhoods as many as one in four children has asthma. Nationally, African American and Puerto Rican children have the highest asthma rates documented, with 17% and 26% respectively, ever having received an asthma diagnosis during their lifetime. Not only are African American children at an increased risk of having asthma, but they are more likely to be hospitalized, visit an Emergency Department (ED), or die from asthma than non-Hispanic Whites. Furthermore, research in New York City and Boston has documented elevated rates of asthma among residents of federally assisted housing when compared to the general population.
Asthma can be triggered by many things in the home, such as dust mites, mold, cockroaches, pets, chemicals and more. When asthma triggers are reduced or removed and housing appropriately maintained, when medications are properly taken, and doctor visits are regular, asthma is more effectively managed. Controlled asthma thus results in fewer absences from school among children and decreased visits to the ER for asthma attacks.
Helping Children Breathe and Thrive in Chicago’s Public Housing (HCBT) is one of the most recent asthma initiatives at Sinai Urban Health Institute (SUHI). It is a partnership between Chicago Housing Authority, Metropolitan’s Tenant’s Organization, Sinai Children’s Hospital and SUHI. Funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the HCBT project aims to improve children’s overall asthma management in two separate CHA properties; Lawndale Gardens and Horner-Westhaven. This is to be achieved via asthma education, assistance navigating the health care system and thorough home assessments.
The Helping Children Breathe and Thrive in Chicago’s Public Housing project was developed based upon previous asthma interventions implemented at SUHI, mainly the Healthy Home, Healthy Child (HHHC) initiative. HHHC has proven to be an effective model for addressing poorly controlled asthma in the primarily African American, underserved community of North Lawndale. HCBT has built upon this model in order to translate it to Chicago Housing Authority properties.
HCBT utilizes the Community Health Worker (CHW) model. The program hires and trains an individual from each CHA property served (Lawndale Gardens and Horner Westhaven) to educate children and their caregivers in their own communities, about asthma and how it can be better managed. The CHWs makes 5-6 home visits over the course of a year with each enrolled child and their family. A large component of the home visits includes a thorough assessment of the home environment for possible asthma triggers. In the event a trigger is present in the home, CHA is contacted to fix the problem, and education on maintenance is provided to the family by the CHW. Referrals for social issues are also made to FamilyWorks, a case management program with an on-site office at CHA properties. In addition, monthly building education sessions are provided for all residents to attend. Topics are different each month and include: Green Cleaning, Integrated Pest Management, Smoking Cessation, Safety, Nutrition, and more. Those residents that do not have primary care physicians are provided with a list of possible providers, and CHWs facilitate open communication between patients and their doctors. Enrollment in the program is intended to supplement the care the patient receives from his/her physician; it is not intended to be a substitute.
The program is currently funded thorough 8/2013.
For more information about this project, please contact Melissa Gutierrez at firstname.lastname@example.org