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Understanding Asthma: April 9, 2019

It can present with chest tightness, shortness of breath, even wheezing. “Asthma is one of the leading reasons for emergency department visits for children four and younger,” explained Teresa Summe, asthma and COPD management program coordinator with Lee Health.

Studies show approximately 7 million children in the United States are living with asthma—and each year nearly 3,500 children die from asthma—which is why health experts say it’s important for children to be able to recognize and manage their asthma symptoms.  “We see a lot of patients that will come in with a diagnosis of asthma and many times they will say my child has just been coughing. Even for our little ones who are four years of age an younger, a lot of times they will just tell you their tummy hurts, and what’s really happening is their chest is tight, and they are having issues with their asthma,” said Summe.

Lee Health decided to create a safe and healthy environment for patients with asthma—by becoming the first asthma friendly pediatric offices in the state. “There are certain criteria you have to meet. They have to have special training for their nurses and respiratory therapists. They have to do a lot of statistics and measures that what we’re doing is actually improving our patient's lives,” she said.

The goal is to provide consistent asthma care throughout the system—while educating patients about the disease, triggers, and symptoms.

“The children that come in through our emergency departments, into the hospital and then out to asthma management, and then into our pediatric practices, they are going to receive safe care and the best care that they can receive,” she said.

Educating and treating patients in an asthma friendly environment.


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