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News Releases from Region 06

EPA Honors University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler for Outstanding Community Asthma Care Program

Award is part of Asthma Awareness Month

05/01/2020
Contact Information: 
Jennah Durant (RPress@epa.gov)
214 665-2200

DALLAS – (May 1, 2020) In celebration of Asthma Awareness Month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will honor the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, Texas, with the National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management. Among the nation's highest honors for programs helping families bring asthma under control, this award recognizes health programs for excellent environmental asthma management. EPA also recognized the Children’s Hospital Colorado Breathing Institute in Aurora, Colorado with the award.

“Asthma is a public health, economic, and environmental issue that can deeply impact families and touches entire communities,” said EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Anne Idsal. “More than ever we cherish the opportunity to thank medical professionals, and we congratulate these innovative programs for supporting their communities, especially during this difficult time.”

“We are truly honored to receive this award from the EPA. The mobile asthma program’s success has been attributed to many UT Health Science Center leaders over the years, including Dr. Kirk Calhoun, Dr. Paul Sharkey and Kate Starnes,” said Executive Director Michele Bosworth, MD. “Having asthma doesn’t have to be debilitating for children; through the care delivered in the Breath of Life Mobile asthma program, our goal is to enable children to thrive in their school and home environments.”

University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler in Northeast Texas serves a mostly rural area where 14 percent of children have asthma, about 5 percent higher than the state average. Environmental triggers such as higher-than-average exposure to secondhand smoke, pollution, high pollen counts, and mold exposures both outdoors and indoors, as well as substandard housing in Northeast Texas, contribute to these high rates. Access to primary or specialty care is limited due to a lack of providers, so asthma-related symptoms often lead to emergency department visits and missed school days.  

In response to this health care challenge, in 2008 the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler initiated a mobile asthma program, “The Breath of Life Mobile Pediatric Asthma Clinic” (BOLMPAC). The program travels to schools, apartment complexes, churches and community health centers, providing comprehensive asthma care and allergy testing to 2,500 unique patients a year. Patients with severe or uncontrolled asthma receive a home assessment provided by a BOLMPAC community health worker. This successful program has seen a significant decrease in missed school days and a 50 percent decrease in emergency department visits.

Asthma, a serious respiratory disease, affects the quality of life of over 23 million Americans and their families. Extensive evidence suggests that reducing indoor exposure to irritants and allergens such as secondhand smoke, dust mites, pests, mold and animals can prevent asthma attacks or lessen their severity.

EPA is committed to reducing the national burden of asthma by implementing a multi-faceted program comprised of research, regulatory measures and non-regulatory community-based technical assistanceoutreach, and education campaigns. As technical experts on buildings and public health, EPA is uniquely positioned to create connections across the health, housing, and environmental sectors to address environmental asthma triggers and manage asthma. EPA facilitates a network of more than 1,000 community-based programs to find local solutions for delivering and sustaining comprehensive asthma care by offering technical assistance and peer-to-peer learning opportunities. As a result, more and more programs are deploying innovative approaches and best practices to successfully improve the lives of people with asthma in their communities.  

To showcase and spread best asthma care practices from these award-winning programs, EPA will host a webinar on May 28, 2020, as part of Asthma Awareness Month. Registration for this webinar will be announced shortly on our website at: www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq.

Learn more about the National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management and the 2020 winners: www.epa.gov/asthma

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