Southeast Receives EPA Grant to Direct Asthma Education Program

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Oct. 13, 2005 — Southeast Missouri State University’s Center for Environmental Analysis has received a $21,460 competitive grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to direct an asthma education program intended to reduce asthma-related emergency room readmission through environmental trigger education and home assessments. 

The funds were made available by the EPA Region 7 Indoor Air Quality Allocation for activities relating to the Clean Air Act. 

The EPA-funded project will be directed by Dr. John Kraemer, director of the Center for Environmental Analysis, and will involve a consortium consisting of Southeast Missouri Hospital, Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center’s Rural Clinic and Southeast Missouri State University.  The program will include three distinct operations:  physician education;  patient/patient family education; and, home assessment and action plan development.

Physician Training

Physician training will address specific topics, including in-home environmental triggers for asthma, components of an exposure reduction plan, in-home assessment techniques to be used by the assessment team and the information packet provided to the patient’s family.  In addition, the program will explain the importance of patient involvement in home assessment.

Patient Education

Patient education will include an informational packet that discusses asthma and its symptoms, environmental triggers that may affect the return of symptoms, a home environmental checklist and a list of exposure reduction or elimination activities that can be performed at the home of the patient.  In addition, patient families will be assisted in the development of an exposure reduction plan.

In-Home Assessment

The in-home assessment will consist of administration of a questionnaire to assess indoor environmental triggers in the home and a walk-through assessment of the patient’s home to observe obvious sources of indoor air pollution and environmental asthma triggers.

Asthma affects seven percent of the U.S. population, and about 33 percent of these affected individuals are under the age of 18, Kraemer said. Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children, the leading non-injury cause of hospitalization for pediatric patients ages 0-15 and a common medical cause for missed school days, he said.

The Southeast Missouri region emergency room admission rate is about three times the state average admission rate for pediatric asthma, Kraemer added. In addition, the emergency room patient return rate within 30 days of the patient’s last visit is well above the state average, he said.