Open Airways participants

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 31, 2000

‘breathe easier’ after graduation


Features Editor

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For students in the Open Airways program, graduation came early.

After a very successful year of learning how to breathe easier with asthma, more than 200 students in Pike County and Troy elementary schools, received certificates of successful completion of the Open Airways program.

Last week, 50 students at Troy Elementary School graduated and 175 students at Pike County, Goshen and Banks had already received their certificates.

Pat Deichmann, site director from Open Airways for Schools program in Pike County, said the program has proven to be successful in helping the children to manage their asthma and in keeping them in school.

Deichmann said in Pike County, more than 500 school age children have been diagnosed with asthma.

"Asthma is the number one chronic lung disease among school age children and the number one cause of absenteeism," she said.

Poorly controlled asthma symptoms cause hospitalizations, emergency room visits and urgent care visits, sick days and activity limitations that cause asthma suffers to accept a much lower quality f life than need be.

The American Lung Association worked closely with Edge Regional Medical Center and Charles Henderson Child Health Center to establish a community wide asthma initiative. The Open Airways for Schools Program is in the third year of implementation in Troy City and Pike County schools,

Open Airways is a six-session asthma management program for children 8 to 11.

"Nationwide the students who completed the program showed increased school performance and attendance, demonstrated more confidence in their ability to manage asthma and had fewer asthma episodes," Deichmann said.

Community volunteers and the Troy State University School of Nursing coordinate with the health facilities to attend training sessions and teach the program in the schools.

Deichmann works with the school nurses, Sarah Black at Troy Elementary School and Betty Farrar at the Pike County elementary schools, to schedule these classes.

Deichmann expressed appreciation to the health facilities, the school nurses and Jo Ellen Flory and Cathy Dunn, instructors from the TSU School of Nursing, for their dedication and help.

"And the program wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers who give so willingly and freely of their time and talents to make the Open Airways for Schools Program such a success," Deichmann. "Because of these people, Pike County children with asthma are able to breathe easier and that’s a wonderful feeling for them and for us."