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Health

Children's Hospital develops asthma action plan

| Saturday, March 22, 2008

When Nathaniel Perez got sick several years ago, his mother thought he had bronchitis or pneumonia.

But doctors soon diagnosed Nathaniel, then 9 months old, with asthma.

"When he was diagnosed, it was bad," said his mother, Susan Adams, 43. "He would have them (asthma attacks) three times a year. I would run him to the emergency room at 1 in the morning."

With the treatment Nathaniel, now 4, has received, he has not had an asthma attack in more than a year, his mother said.

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh is hoping for more success stories like Nathaniel's.

To that end, its Division of General Academic Pediatrics is establishing the Asthma Quality Improvement Program at its Primary Care Center in Turtle Creek.

State Rep. Paul Costa presented officials with a $10,000 state grant for the program on Friday. Costa secured the money through the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

Costa, a Wilkins Democrat, said the prevalence of asthma in children served by Children's in Turtle Creek is 13 percent -- twice the national average.

Dr. Alejandro Hoberman, chief of the Division of General Academic Pediatrics at Children's, said the higher incidence of asthma cases in the Turtle Creek region can be attributed to such factors as poverty, poor air quality and high rates of smoking.

The Turtle Creek clinic serves more than 1,000 patients -- most of whom live in Turtle Creek and Braddock, Hoberman said.

Dr. Debra Bogen, a pediatrician in the Division of General Academic Pediatrics, said doctors will develop surveys to measure parents' satisfaction with their children's asthma management.

Children's also plans to expand the asthma quality improvement program at Children's Hospital Primary Care Center in Oakland. That center serves 15,000 children.

"Our goal is to reduce the number of hospital visits, emergency room visits and school days missed," Hoberman said.

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