The Phoenix Children’s Hospital Breathmobile is a self-contained mobile asthma clinic. This clinic travels among inner-city schools in Phoenix, providing asthma identification, teaching, treatment and follow up.
What is asthma?
Asthma is a life-long condition where the lungs are extra sensitive, more than those lungs without asthma. Asthma is caused by a high number of cells in the airway walls being very sensitive. When the lungs are exposed to triggers (things that irritate the lungs, like smoke, dust, cats, exercise, and many more) the breathing tubes become inflamed or swollen, they make extra mucus, and the muscles around the breathing tubes tighten causing coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing (or shortness of breath), and sometimes death. A successful asthma treatment program includes proper identification and diagnosis of asthma (which includes a medical history, physical, and pulmonary function test), an individualized medication program made in partnership with a health care provider, education on asthma self management, and ongoing follow up with a health care provider to monitor the asthma and make changes in the plan as necessary.
Helping kids manage asthma
The Breathmobile provides a comprehensive asthma management program for children and their parents. Children undergo a history, a physical examination, and pulmonary function testing (a breathing test that can tell how well the lungs are working). Children that are diagnosed with asthma:
- Develop an asthma action plan which is an individualized medication program in partnership with the provider
- Receive education on asthma self management to better care for their asthma at home
- Are given a follow up appointment to evaluate how the plan is working
- Are given a 24 hour phone number they can call in the event of questions or concerns regarding asthma
Success is in the air
The Breathmobile has made significant improvements in childhood asthma in the children that have been followed. The results to date are as follows:
- Greater than a 40 percent drop in missed school days due to asthma related problems
- Greater than a 70 percent drop in emergency room visits due to asthma
- Greater than a 73 percent drop in hospital stays due to asthma
- Significant improvement in asthma disease severity
- Significant improvement in quality of life for both children and parents
Sponsors and supporters of the Breathmobile include Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Health Resources Services Administration, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck Pharmaceuticals, Aetna Foundation, Arizona Department of Health Services and AstraZeneca. The Breathmobile is also supported by public grants for asthma management and care.