Back-to-School Project

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

We’re in full back-to-school mode at my house. We have new backpacks, new lunch boxes and new clothes. We’ve also already completed some of the usual paperwork — emergency contact forms, a list of who’s allowed to pick up the kids and health and allergy forms, to name a few.

Thankfully, my children do not have any allergies or chronic health conditions that affect this transition back to school, unlike parents of children with asthma cited by a new American Lung Association study.

This study found that despite evidence of spikes in asthma emergency room and hospitalization rates in September — a seasonal “back-to-school asthma” phenomenon, many parents of asthmatic children are not taking simple steps to manage their child’s asthma while at school.

According to the poll, 73 percent of parents of children with asthma report they are concerned about how their child’s asthma will affect their ability to participate in school. And yet, less than half the parents polled talk to the teacher about their child’s asthma (48 percent) or make sure the child’s medicine is available at school (42 percent). Less than one-third make sure their child is under medical supervision (31 percent) or talk to the school administration about the child’s health condition (27 percent).

Case managers at Pitt County Memorial Hospital, in Greenville, N.C., work with school systems to help patients get the resources they need to self-manage their chronic diseases, including asthma, said Michelle Brooks, RN, MSN, administrator of regional health plans for Pitt, which is part of University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina

This was just one element of her organization’s community-based disease management partnerships program described during Maximizing the Results of Your Disease Management Programs Through Community-Based Resources, a June 21, 2006 audio conference now available on CD-ROM.

Pitt also uses schools as a referral source for patients who might benefit from disease management programs. These simple strategies don’t take a lot of the case managers’ time, but just might pay off by reducing the number of asthma-related emergency room visits and hospitalizations come this September.

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