Join Us in Supporting Care for Kids with Asthma

November 9, 2020

Children’s Colorado is nationally recognized for treating the most common chronic childhood condition: asthma. By leading prevention and outreach efforts in homes, schools and communities, we’re reaching beyond our hospital walls to make a difference for kids. Learn how you can help ensure this lifesaving work continues.

When Dr. Robin Deterding, the director of the Breathing Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado, talks about the urgency of funding the hospital’s Asthma Program, she asks people to perform a simple exercise that many of us take for granted.

“Take a deep breath,” she says. “Now, imagine how it would feel if this basic human function – inhaling and exhaling – was very difficult. Without our programs that treat kids’ asthma in their homes, schools and communities, this would be the daily reality for far too many children.”

Asthma is the most common chronic condition of childhood; one in 10 children in the United States will be diagnosed with this pulmonary problem in their lifetime. Each year, kids collectively miss 13 million school days due to asthma, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these challenges and concerns by putting children with breathing issues at even greater risk.

Dr. Deterding, who holds the Ed and Roxanne Fie Anderson Family Endowed Chair for Breathing, and her team of nearly 30 pulmonologists at Children’s Colorado are making great strides in combating and overcoming the problems posed by this breathing condition, but they need the community’s help to continue their world-class, nationally acclaimed, award-winning Asthma Program.

Created in 2006, the Children’s Colorado Asthma Program offers a holistic approach to asthma management that extends far beyond the hospital’s walls. Asthma can’t be effectively treated in the hospital’s outpatient clinics or emergency department alone—it needs to be addressed through prevention and education in homes, schools and everywhere that children live, learn and play.

A multidisciplinary program, the Asthma Program works across the continuum of care, from the community to the clinic to the emergency department and hospital, to treat and support children with asthma, as well as their families. The program includes physicians, advanced practice providers, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, patient navigators and health educators who work in the community with the families served by Children’s Colorado.

Children’s Colorado partners with primary care providers, schools, county health departments and community organizations through its Just Keep Breathing program. These asthma home visits provide personalized asthma education to children and their caregivers. The community health workers help children and families to reduce exposure to indoor irritants, like secondhand smoke, and allergens from house dust mites, pests, mold and animals. This can mean anything from professionally cleaning rugs and providing families with special vacuum cleaners to patching leaking pipes. Through AsthmaComp, a school-based program supported by the hospital, kids and families can meet with Children’s Colorado asthma educators at local schools. After a clinical assessment, participants review medications and asthma triggers, which can help the whole family better prevent, manage and treat a child’s asthma, empowering everyone involved in the patient’s asthma care.  

Thanks to groundbreaking programs like Just Keep Breathing and AsthmaComp, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently recognized the Asthma Program at Children’s Colorado with a National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management. It’s a notable honor, as Children’s Colorado is only one of two hospitals in the country to earn the distinction this year.

The community arm of the Asthma Program is currently funded almost exclusively by state grants, but the global pandemic and other economic pressures have put vital government funding at risk, something that could impact the hospital’s asthma services not just for a year, but for many years to come. It has taken years to build trust and relationships in communities that are most impacted by asthma. The most impacted kids and families include underserved populations, who frequently have limited access to the resources needed to help manage childhood asthma.

Donations to the Asthma Program can help ensure the viability of these critical programs today and can also help expand the program to reach more children and their families who desperately need these services to protect their health and wellbeing.

In addition, because most of the community-based services offered by the Asthma Program are provided free of charge and many of the community outreach positions are supported almost entirely by grants, securing an endowed chair specifically for the Asthma Program would ensure that these critical support services are available in perpetuity, minimizing the impact of funding fluctuations. An endowed chair for the Asthma Program would also support groundbreaking research for the best ways to prevent and treat asthma in children.