In the News

University of New Mexico Hospital Receives ASME Certification

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September 6, 2011

As the only recognized Pediatric Pulmonary Center in the state of New Mexico, the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) in Albuquerque provides asthma disease management services to children within a 300 mile radius of the facility.

Now those services have received national recognition through the AARC’s Asthma Self-Management Education (ASME) certification program.

Multidisciplinary program

“Our initial decision to apply for the ASME certification was to validate our program, as we felt that it went beyond routine asthma management and education,” says AARC member Kyla Boswell, BS, RRT, CPFT, AE-C, pulmonary diagnostics supervisor at UNMH. “We knew that based on our established outcomes and history of exceeding all of our quality indicators, we were doing something that should be recognized.”

The Pediatric Asthma Center relies on a multidisciplinary team to address patients' needs
The Pediatric Asthma Center relies on a multidisciplinary team to address patients' needs.

The multidisciplinary program involves seven RRTs, who work with a team of  physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and social workers to meet the needs of an ethnically, culturally, and economically diverse patient population. For example, when necessary, asthma education is delivered in Spanish as well as English, and educational resources are available in other languages too.

RTs involved in all settings

With a reach that extends from the emergency department to the hospital to the outpatient setting, the program is able to follow patients throughout the health care system. Respiratory therapists play an integral role across the entire continuum, conducting initial assessments and performing patient management in the ED, implementing treatment protocols and providing discharge planning in the hospital, and conducting individualized assessments and taking asthma-focused histories in the clinic.

They also perform spirometry, ensure patients have appropriate medication delivery devices and know how to use them, make suggestions for changes to the care plan, and keep the lines of communication open with the patient’s primary care physician.

One of the RTs on the team goes over an educational resource with a family member of a patient.
One of the RTs on the team goes over an educational resource with a family member of a patient.

Twice a month, they also fly out to rural, underserved communities throughout the state to deliver the same type of comprehensive services to New Mexico residents who otherwise would not have access to this type of care. Patients who are identified as high risk through the Rural Outreach Program are then referred to community based clinics for further treatment.

“We focus on helping patients understand how asthma works and how to manage their signs and symptoms in various situations,” says Boswell. The ultimate goal: help patients reach a symptom free lifestyle.

One of the RTs on the team goes over an educational resource with a family member of a patient.

Team members head out to visit patients in a rural area of the state
Team members head out to visit patients in a rural area of the state.

Outcomes tell the story

Outcomes from the program demonstrate its growing success. “Our Pediatric Asthma Center evaluates the success of our educational program by reviewing compliance and QI processes related to the Joint Commission-Children's Asthma Care (CAC) outcomes measures,” explains Boswell. “CAC-3 specifically addresses patient/family education and the importance of home management and action plans.”

In the third quarter of 2007, the program was 30% compliant with the CAC-3 standards. By the third quarter of 2009, compliance stood at 100%.

These results were reflected by a steep decline in pediatric asthma readmission rates as well, which dropped from 5% in 2007 to just 1.5% in 2009.

Team members head out to visit patients in a rural area of the state
Spirometry is an important part of the evaluation process.

Fostering pride

Boswell says receiving ASME certification has validated her organization’s commitment to providing the highest level of asthma disease management services for its patients, and she believes it will also help pave the way to more standardized reimbursement.

“We feel the high standards set by the AARC to achieve this recognition should go a long way in helping convince third-party payers that comprehensive asthma management and education is a necessity.”

Receiving the certification has been a nice reward for the Pediatric Asthma Center team as well. “Having the AARC acknowledge the program also increases the confidence and pride of all our team members,” says the therapist. “We are that much more committed to maintaining the level of care and professionalism that this designation signifies.”