Five years ago, Nevada State College and Basic High School forged a successful partnership resulting in the creation of the Dr. Joel and Carol Bower School-Based Health Center (SBHC). Since its opening, the SBHC has carried out its mission of providing high quality, accessible health care to Henderson area schools. The SBHC specifically targets the treatment of uninsured, underinsured and other vulnerable populations and has served the medical needs of over 4,000 school-aged children from Henderson K-12 schools.
In 2009, Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) awarded the SBHC a grant to implement an Asthma Management program. This program was designed to provide diagnosis, management, influenza immunizations, medication, teaching and continual monitoring for children with asthma who lack access to healthcare due to poverty and lack of health insurance.
The goal of this program is to empower students to control their asthma, so they may live normal lives, participate in athletic activities and eliminate life threatening exacerbations and unnecessary use of emergency services, explained School of Nursing Lecturer Gail Rattigan, who has overseen many of the program’s initiatives.
As the most significant chronic health condition in school-aged children, asthma can hamper the overall wellness of a child. Proper management of asthma improves the quality of life for affected children and their families. Additionally, well-controlled asthma reduces unnecessary expenditures for healthcare providers who bear the cost of un-reimbursed health care for uninsured children. Through the services offered at the Asthma Management program, both children with asthma and the local community benefit.
This fall, the Asthma Management program held a clinic to train SBHC nurse practitioners and also the school nurses on how to effectively manage asthma with their patients. Led by Rattigan, the clinic instructed participants on current evidence-based protocols for the diagnosis and management of asthma. Considering flu season is well underway, the timing of the clinic was important, as people with asthma are more susceptible to contracting the flu or other upper respiratory infections. NSC Nursing students from the Community Health Clinical class (NURS 438) adopted the asthma program as their community-based learning project, and developed a student and family teaching plan, which was presented during the clinic. Dr. Jim Christensen, a local allergy asthma specialist, lent his expertise to the clinic event by discussing how to assist with the management of children with more difficult cases of asthma. Schering-Plough pharmaceuticals, a company that produces asthma medication, generously provided medication samples for the event.
The Asthma Management clinic is a good way to demonstrate to CHW and the community our commitment to the children we have reached through last year’s grant funds, said Rattigan.
In just one year, the Asthma Management program at the SBHC has had a positive impact on the services offered to Henderson school children living with asthma. The program has since been invited by CHW to reapply for future grant funding.