Supervisor Wilma Chan announced last week that Alameda County will be committing an additional $100,000 to Asthma Start in an effort to reduce the harmful impact of asthma. Currently, Alameda County has the second highest rate of asthma and the third highest rates of asthma prevalence and hospitalizations in California. San Leandro ranks third and San Lorenzo ranks fourth overall for asthma related emergency room visits in Alameda County. Hospitalizations due to asthma, particularly for children under five years old, are well above the county average for both these communities. $50,000 of the additional resources will be directed to Asthma Start services in San Lorenzo and San Leandro.
“San Leandro and San Lorenzo are facing a health crisis with a staggering number of asthma hospitalizations,” said Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan. “This is why we are committing an additional $100,000 for asthma screening, education and prevention in Alameda County, and designating half for asthma services in San Lorenzo and San Leandro.”
Resources going to the Asthma Start Program will benefit Alameda County children with asthma by providing in-home case management services, education and prevention services, and treatment. The additional funding comes from monies provided through Measure A—a voter approved initiative.
“Alameda County is at greater risk from asthma than ever before. The increased exposure to toxins, so prevalent in both East and West Oakland, also occurs in those communities that border our busy freeways. Proximity to freeways is one of the most important risk factors and triggers for asthma symptoms, missed days from schools and emergency room visits,” said Dr. Michael LeNoir, a pediatrician and allergist specializing in asthma-related health problems. “Expanding the resources of the Asthma Start program to the San Leandro and San Lorenzo communities is a wise step to take on behalf of asthma patients. In Alameda County, we are united in this struggle to improve asthma outcomes.”
Asthma is still the number one chronic illness for children in the United States and is the number one cause of school absenteeism among children accounting for more than 14 million total missed days of school. Asthma also accounts for one quarter of all emergency room visits in the U.S each year.
It is a major threat to the health and well being of children in Alameda County particularly for communities of color. African American, Asian-Pacific Islander, and Latino children under five years old have higher rates of asthma related hospitalizations in Alameda County than their white counterparts. “Asthma disproportionately affects communities of color in Alameda County and we must mobilize our entire community to address this overwhelming need,” continued Supervisor Chan.
Five year old Elijah of San Leandro had been to the emergency room twice and hospitalized once in August and September of 2010 because of asthma. He was referred to the Asthma Start program from Children’s Hospital Oakland and the program taught Elijah’s mother how to take a more preventive approach to treating his chronic illness. Through counseling and case management, they found that the child had allergies that were aggravating his asthma. Elijah’s mother worked with Asthma Start to test for allergies and learned how to prevent asthma attacks through mitigating certain environmental factors (including keeping the dogs in the garage). Elijah has been symptom-free for 6 months. “I am so grateful to Asthma Start for their services. Without them, we wouldn’t have learned how to treat Elijah’s asthma,” said Elijah’s mother.
“We will lead a community effort – we will work with our partners in the Public Health Department, La Clinic, and the community to contact, engage and connect families with Asthma Start,” continued Supervisor Chan. “Together, we can make a difference in the lives of children with asthma in San Lorenzo and San Leandro.”