Camp Catch-Ya-Breath, which grew out of Project CALM, serves kids with moderate to severe persistent asthma.
Washington County, MO, is a low income, rural area where the rate of asthma admissions for children under the age of 15 is significantly higher than that seen in the rest of the state. Thanks to AARC members Tammy Reed, RRT-NPS, AE-C, CPFT, RPSGT, EMT-P, and Michelle Barnes, RRT, now those kids are getting the help they need.
Working through a grant funded by the Missouri Foundation for Health in 2009, the respiratory therapists are taking part in the Childhood Asthma Linkages in Missouri (CALM) project. “Washington County Memorial Hospital was one of 14 grantees awarded this project,” explains Barnes, who works at the hospital along with Reed.
The overriding goals: reduce school absenteeism and inpatient/ER admissions by improving self-management; integrating school, hospital, and clinic services; and training personnel to identify undiagnosed and uncontrolled cases of childhood asthma.
The RT Role
Barnes and Reed were tapped to provide school-based services to children and school staff. As the lead asthma educator, Reed formally evaluates improvements in self-management behavior using validated tools. As the school physician liaison, Barnes is charged with delivering onsite asthma education to providers and staff.
The RTs also perform regular FEV1/PEF checks on all kids with asthma within the four school districts located in the county. Children are referred to the program through the emergency room, school, primary care provider, or local pharmacists.
In 2012, a collaboration between Washington County Project CALM and the University of Missouri at Columbia led to the formation of a statewide asthma camp for kids dubbed “Camp Catch-Ya-Breath” as well. “Each year Camp Catch-Ya-Breath accepts 40 children ages seven to 13 with moderate to severe persistent asthma from across the state,” says Reed. “This camp is offered at no charge to the families and is a fun-filled weekend camp that enables asthmatic children to take control of their asthma.”
When the initial CALM grant concluded in 2013, Barnes, Reed, and their colleagues noted significant improvements in asthma outcomes —
- Nighttime awakenings decreased from seven nights per month to two.
- Days of inactivity due to asthma decreased from five per month to one.
- Average number of days per month using a reliever inhaler decreased from 7.3 at baseline to 3.6 at year two.
- The percentage of children with well controlled asthma increased by 43%, up from 33% to 76%.
- The number of days absent per year overall stood at 7.38; however, after two years of the program, the number of days missed due to asthma was two.
- Children were significantly more likely to have an asthma action plan, and the child’s asthma action plan was significantly more likely to be kept on file by the school.
- The number of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and urgent care visits decreased significantly among children in the program for 12 months.
These kinds of outcomes are likely to continue. After the original grant ended, CALM received a Rural Health Care Services Outreach Grant funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “With this grant, Project CALM was allowed to extend its services to five additional counties throughout Southern Missouri,” says Barnes. “The focus of this grant remains the same as the initial CALM project, however we now have the opportunity to serve a greater number of asthmatic children in Southeastern Missouri.”
May is Asthma & Allergy Awareness Month and the AARC is marking the occasion by offering all of its members 25% off registration for our Asthma Prep Course. The course is especially designed to help RTs successfully sit for the Asthma Educator-Certified Exam.