In the News

EPA Award Goes to Program Led by AARC Member

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May 9, 2013

The North East Independent School District (NEISD) in San Antonio, TX, has just received the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management for its Asthma Awareness Education Program (AAEP).

AARC Member Diane Rhodes, BBA, RRT, AE-C, who also received the EPA’s National Special Achievement Award for her work in the program back in 2008, says receiving the new award was a tremendous honor.

“I am delighted that the AAEP has been recognized for its efforts to improve the quality of life of students with asthma, and its role in providing a healthier learning environment for all students and staff,” says the program leader.

Outcomes tell the story

Rhodes was hired to launch the program back in 2006 after the district realized that poorly controlled asthma among the student population was having a negative impact on academic performance. School funding was suffering as well, because in Texas funding is linked to average daily attendance levels and asthma was causing too many kids to miss school.

The program consists of asthma education for school personnel on all of the district campuses, RRT/AE-C led case management for children with hard to control asthma, and regular Asthma Blow Out community events hosted in areas with the largest disparities in asthma outcomes.

Outcomes tell the story. Following implementation of the program, the NEISD noted a 50% decline in rescue medication use, asthma-related emergency medical service transports during the school day dropped from 80 to 24, and yearly attendance averages jumped from 95.3% to 96.1%. Parents cited overwhelming support for the ABO program as well, with 95% of those who attended saying they would recommend ABO attendance to a friend.

To top it all off, the district has been named a Recognized District for its academic performance for four years in a row now, an achievement school officials believe was facilitated in part by the program.

A path to follow

Rhodes believes her program could serve as a pathway for other RTs to follow. “School districts are faced with financial and academic challenges; a proactive disease management program which implements asthma-friendly practices in medication management and environmental strategies can minimize those challenges,” she says. 

The return on investment is two-fold, continues the therapist. “In states where schools are funded by attendance, the program pays for itself within the first couple of months by a reduction in missed school days during the ‘September Epidemic’; in all states, reducing loss of instruction time provides an environment where those with asthma can reach their full academic potential.”

To read more about Diane Rhodes and the NEISD AAEP, check out the On the Cover Q&A published in the April 2010 issue of AARC Times.