According to the Central California Asthma Collaborative, one in six children have asthma in the San Joaquin Valley. That statistic is the highest level in California.
You can imagine, the stress on a parent who might not know what all comes with an asthma diagnosis. Fortunately, there is a program at Community Medical Centers that helps families learn about living with asthma.
Four year-old Angel Velasco came into this world a little early. But his lungs weren’t quite ready. As Angel grew, he sometimes had trouble breathing.
“His ribs pretty much expanded to where you could see his whole ribs. It’s very scary,” described Angel’s mother, Nea Liscano-Nolen.
Nea said those first few years were in and out of emergency rooms. Doctors diagnosed Angel with asthma.
Megan Howard is a respiratory therapist and asthma educator for Community’s Asthma Education and Management Program. She said, “Twenty-three percent of our pediatric patients, ages 5 to 17, have asthma… When they come to us, generally if it’s the first time they’ve been, they’re pretty much scared. scared that their child has a chronic disease, they’re scared what that means, they’re scared something bad is going to happen to their child.”
Megan said Nea, like most parents in her position, just needed some help and understanding. The asthma education program does just that.
“The benefits include better managing asthma at home. So to help reduce the amount of times they have to go to urgent care or the ED. They help keep the patients at home, healthier longer, so the kids can stay in school and the parents at work. And they can be happier, healthier,” said Megan.
Nea said they taught her things like how to give medication, and when. Also, what to look for with breathing, and what seasons, or particulants can trigger him.
“It made me feel a little more secure. Actually way more secure. Because then I was like, okay. I know what to do,” said Nea.
Megan added, “As you saw, he was running around acting like a normal child. He’s telling you that his breathing feels great, and that’s wonderful. That’s what we want for all of our patients.”
Megan said the earlier education starts, the better, so that kids can better manage their asthma into adulthood. Nea credits the program with keeping them out of the hospital.
“They’re a lifesaver, because there are times with his breathing, prior to this program, where I felt I was going to lose him. But with this program, I feel secure,” stated Nea.
Secure, so that Angel can keep doing what four-year-old boys do best – without fear of not being able to breathe.
Nea ended, “He just continues to run and play. He loves it.”
To be referred to Community’s Asthma Education and Management Program, ask your primary care provider. For more information, you can call (559) 459-3554.