A mobile clinic staffed by an asthma specialist, nurse, and respiratory therapist significantly reduced emergency department visits and hospitalizations for low income children without access to regular care in a study presented at the recent American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology meeting.
The UCLA Breathmobile operates in Long Beach City, CA, a community with a disproportionate number of children who live in poverty and also suffer from asthma. Compared to Los Angeles County as a whole, where the asthma rate among kids stands at 8%, 15% of children in Long Beach City have symptoms consistent with asthma.
Researchers from UCLA examined the number of ED visits, hospitalizations, and school absences due to asthma in children who attended the clinic and also evaluated patient control of symptoms at follow-up visits. More than 1,117 mobile clinic visits made by 565 children were analyzed over a two year period. Among that group, 454 were diagnosed with asthma, 34% with intermittent asthma, 32% with mild asthma, 24% with moderate asthma, and 9% with severe asthma.
ED visits dropped from 39.8% to 21.4%, hospitalizations went from 9.2% to 4.1%, and the percentage of children missing more than five days of school due to asthma decreased from 33.7% to 11.2%. An examination of follow up visits found 65% of the children had well-controlled asthma at their last visit, 22% were not well controlled, and 12% were poorly controlled.
“In a low income population with limited health care access, providing direct care with a mobile clinic resulted in dramatic improvement of asthma outcomes,” write the authors.