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Two Health Programs, both in California, Announced as the Winners of U.S. EPA’s National Asthma Management Awards

Central California Asthma Collaborative, Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego Earn Awards Tied to Asthma Awareness Month

05/05/2021
Contact Information: 
Joshua Alexander (alexander.joshua@epa.gov)
(415) 972-3258

For Immediate Release: May 5, 2021

Media Contact: Joshua Alexander, alexander.joshua@epa.gov, (415) 972-3258 

Two Health Programs, both in California, Announced as the Winners of U.S. EPA’s National Asthma Management Awards

Central California Asthma Collaborative, Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego Earn Awards Tied to Asthma Awareness Month

This May, during Asthma Awareness Month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is honoring two exceptional community-based asthma programs with the 2021 National Environmental Leadership in Asthma Management Award. EPA is recognizing the Central California Asthma Collaborative’s (CCAC) Asthma Impact Model (AIM) Program and Rady Children’s Hospital – San Diego (RCHSD) for their leadership in promoting environmental asthma management as part of comprehensive asthma care in the communities they serve.

“Growing up with respiratory challenges in North Carolina, I know the struggle that millions of Americans suffer on a daily basis,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “I’m also keenly aware of how asthma disproportionately affects children of families living in underserved communities overburdened by pollution. Innovative programs like CCAC and RCHSD play a crucial role in combating this serious, sometimes life-threatening disease by tackling it at a community level.”

Over 24 million Americans have asthma, including 5.5 million children. U.S. 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 assistance, outreach, and education campaigns. U.S. EPA facilitates a network of more than 1,100 community-based programs to find local solutions, particularly in disadvantaged communities, for delivering and sustaining comprehensive asthma care.

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease, and although there is no cure for asthma yet, extensive evidence suggests that reducing exposure to indoor irritants such as secondhand smoke, indoor allergens such as house dust mites, pests, mold and animals, and outdoor air pollution can prevent asthma attacks or lessen their severity.

2021 National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management Winners:

Central California Asthma Collaborative (Fresno, California)

Aimed at improving the lives of low income, predominantly Hispanic and African American Medi-Cal and uninsured patients suffering from asthma, Central California Asthma Collaborative’s (CCAC) AIM’s Program works to reduce in-home environmental triggers, ensure access to and proper use of asthma medications, and facilitates regular visits to healthcare providers.

Asthma prevalence across the eight counties of the San Joaquin Valley served by CCAC has reached as high as 20% in school age children. The Valley’s aging housing stock is a significant contributor to home environmental asthma triggers. That, combined with the poorest outdoor air quality in the nation, has created a perfect storm for high rates of poorly controlled asthma. CCAC was established in 2011 to develop an in-home asthma program for children residing in low-income housing and communities of color. Over time, CCAC has partnered with health plans to receive direct patient referrals for high-risk asthmatic patients with high health care utilization. In response to COVID-19, CCAC has adapted the AIM program to a virtual visit model to continue to provide participants with personalized asthma education and home remediation services. As a result of their work, asthma-related hospitalizations decreased by 70%, asthma-related emergency department usage decreased by 81%, and asthma-related outpatient visits decreased by 53%.

Rady Children’s Hospital -San Diego (San Diego, California)

Established in 1954, Rady Children’s Hospital – San Diego evolved from a 59-bed hospital for child polio victims to a 524-bed pediatric medical center servicing San Diego, Imperial, and southern Riverside counties. Rady Children’s Health Network is a Clinically Integrated Network that combines primary care, specialty care, and hospital-based services. Of the asthma population seen in the emergency department, the children are primarily Latinx (65%) and African American (12%). Many of the children live in neighborhoods commonly associated with inequities related to poverty, poor outdoor air quality and other socioeconomic and cultural factors.

“On behalf of Rady Children’s and Rady Children’s Health Network, we are honored to receive the 2021 National Environmental Leadership in Asthma Management Award,” said Dr. Keri Carstairs, chief population health officer at Rady Children’s Hospital. “As a health system and clinically integrated network, we are continually dedicated to improving the lives of children with asthma in our community by taking a whole child and family centered approach, establishing community partnerships, and addressing care across the continuum of care. This continuum includes improving the home environment as well as the medical care received by primary and specialty care teams both in the clinic and hospital environments.”

For the past five years, RCHSD has implemented a Community Approach to Severe Asthma Program, an innovative initiative utilizing a community health worker model with the goal of improving management and outcomes for children with severe asthma. C community health workers contact the families of these children and perform in-home visits to conduct environmental assessments, reinforce health care provider instructions, assess asthma control, and set behavioral/environmental change goals. Due to COVID -19, the team moved the home visit program to a completely virtual format with great success. Natural cleaning kits are distributed to all participants in the program, and home remediation supplies such as dust mite encasings for beds, high-efficiency particulate air filters, and closed lid garbage cans are distributed as needed.

For more information about U.S. EPA’s work to reduce exposure to indoor asthma triggers, visit https://www.epa.gov/asthma.

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