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EPA Honors Efforts of Rhode Island Asthma Control Program During Asthma Awareness Month

05/01/2019
Contact Information: 
David Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov)
(617) 918-1017

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today recognized the Rhode Island Department of Health as one of only three national winners of the 2019 National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management. Each year during Asthma Awareness Month, EPA honors programs delivering excellent environmental asthma management as part of their comprehensive asthma care services to improve the lives of children and families with asthma.

"I am honored to award and congratulate the winners of the 2019 National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management on behalf of EPA," said EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Bill Wehrum. "These outstanding programs are on the front lines of asthma care, improving lives, delivering real solutions, and helping the many Americans who battle asthma. We are proud to recognize leaders in the field who are providing comprehensive, in-home care and education every day, while setting the standard for asthma care and management."

The Rhode Island Department of Health Asthma Control Program, based in Providence, R.I., serves children with asthma ages 0-17 in high poverty, urban cities throughout the state. The program partners with organizations including Hasbro Children's Hospital, St. Joseph Health Center, New England Asthma Regional Council, United HealthCare and the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative to deliver care. The evidence-based Home Asthma Response Program (HARP), which uses certified asthma educators and community health workers, conducts up to three intensive in-home sessions, including tailored environmental services. HARP's community health workers reported reductions in environmental triggers including mold, pests, dust, pets, tobacco smoke and chemicals. In addition, using hospital claims data, the program was able to show a 75 percent reduction in asthma-related hospital and emergency department costs for HARP participants. And, for every dollar invested in HARP participants, the program realized a $1.33 return on investment. The program recently expanded to provide HARP home visiting services statewide for Medicaid-enrolled children.

"We are grateful for EPA's recognition of the work we do with our partners to improve the lives of families affected by asthma," said Julian Drix, Manager of the Rhode Island Department of Health's Asthma Control Program. "The Rhode Island Department of Health prioritizes health equity by addressing the socioeconomic and environmental factors that impact health. Together we are demonstrating how to reduce asthma emergencies by removing asthma triggers in homes and schools, helping to improve indoor and outdoor air quality, and ensuring high quality asthma services in both healthcare and community settings."

Asthma is a major public health issue, affecting nearly 23 million people, including six million children, and disproportionally affecting low-income and minority communities. The economic impact of asthma has been estimated at more than $56 billion annually from direct medical costs and indirect costs, such as missed school and work days. In partnership with other federal agencies and nonprofit organizations, EPA delivers a national, multi-faceted education and outreach initiative to increase public awareness and action to manage environmental asthma triggers as part of comprehensive asthma management.

Through AsthmaCommunityNetwork.org, EPA supports an online network of more than 1,100 community-based asthma programs with powerful, innovative tools and technical assistance to drive best practices, learning, and ongoing improvement of asthma care. EPA is committed to improving the lives of people with asthma by integrating sound science into effective public health programs around the country.

The other two 2019 award recipients are Mobile Care Chicago (Illinois), and the Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance (Nebraska).

More information:

A national webinar with award winners will be held on May 23 as part of Asthma Awareness Month and more information on it will be available on https://www.epa.gov/asthma .

To learn more about asthma and environmental triggers, please visit https://www.epa.gov/asthma .