Pediatric Asthma Program Receives Grant and National Award



Oct. 24, 2007 – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 has awarded the Missouri Research Corporation funding of $25,866 on behalf of Southeast Missouri State University’s Center for Environmental Analysis (CEA) to continue implementing an innovative pediatric asthma program in southeast Missouri. 

Officials with the Center for Environmental Analysis say the pediatric asthma program, to date, has shown reduced health care costs of about $500,000 for insured families of pediatric patients. 

Because of the Pediatric Asthma Program’s outstanding achievements, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Indoor Environments Division has presented it with its “Communities in Action for Asthma-Friendly Environments” National Exemplary Award. Missouri Research Corporation nominated the program for the honor.

The Pediatric Asthma Program examines the effects of indoor air quality and in-home conditions and behaviors that affect the onset of asthma symptoms. 

“The Center has formed a patient referral network with area public health departments, school nurses, hospital respiratory therapists, hospital pediatricians and rural clinics,” said Dr. John Kraemer, director of the Center for Environmental Analysis. 

The free and confidential asthma education program is continuing through 2008, and Kraemer says he encourages pediatric asthma patients in the region to participate. 

The program has had successful outcomes to date demonstrated by improved patient/patient family knowledge about asthma triggers, improved health care provider knowledge, improved indoor air quality and behaviors within the home.  There also has been a reduction in care usage for asthma-related emergency situations. 

“For our patients, education is key for managing this disease. Learning the different types of environmental triggers that can cause the onset of asthma will help patients and families live with this disease,” said Heather Duschell, assistant with the Center for Environmental Analysis Research. 

During the past two years, the CEA and other staff members have visited the homes of pediatric asthma patients throughout southeast Missouri.  They provide participants and their family members with educational information on asthma and its symptoms, environmental triggers and indoor air pollution.  This information may reduce the return of symptoms, and a home environmental checklist and list of exposure reduction or elimination activities can be performed at the home of the patient.  In addition, CEA assists patient families in developing an exposure reduction plan. 

“Pediatric asthma is the most serious chronic health problem facing children in the United States.  Numerous treatment and prevention options are available, but effective intervention requires the combination of medication, education and environmental changes,” Kraemer said.  “Patients and families that communicate with their health care providers about their environment and their medications can help patients have better control of this disease.”

This year, the pediatric asthma program will expand to Pemiscot and Dunklin Counties in Missouri. 

“We wish to widen the referral network and enable additional health care providers and pediatric asthma patient families to take advantage of the program,” Kraemer said. 

Kraemer launched the education program two years ago because the emergency room admission rate in southeast Missouri was about three times the state average admission rate for pediatric asthma.  He said the emergency room patient return rate within 30 days of the patient’s last visit also was well above the state average. 

Those interested in participating in the free and confidential asthma education program may contact Kraemer at (573) 651-2355.