Child with asthma

New grant funding to meet increasing need for pediatric asthma education and intervention in South Texas

September 8, 2015

High childhood asthma rates near the Texas-Mexico border have lead Genny Carrillo, M.D., Sc.D., to provide asthma education in the area she has called home for many years.

An associate professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health McAllen Campus, Carrillo will continue her work in community-based pediatric asthma education and intervention using a 2-year $374,042 grant from the Knapp Community Care Foundation.

The project will include home-based interventions targeting asthmatic children 5-12 years of age. Carrillo will work in collaboration with Hidalgo County Head Start Centers, the City of Weslaco Parks and Recreation Department, the Weslaco Public Library and the Weslaco Boys and Girls Club of America. The program will utilize the “Asthma and Healthy Homes” curriculum Carrillo developed and the “Seven Principles of Healthy Homes” curriculum developed by the National Healthy Homes Training Center and Network.

“Children enrolled in Head Start Centers will be screened to determine if they are at risk for developing asthma,” Carrillo said. “If a child is determined to be at risk, their parents will be referred to medical providers for diagnosis.”

Once diagnosed, the child and their parents will be asked to participate in an educational program provided by Community Health Workers. The family will be taught asthma signs and symptoms; what to do in case of an asthma attack; and use of medications, spacers and peak flow meters. They will also be taught how to decrease asthma triggers in the home environment by keeping it dry, clean, ventilated, pest-free, safe and contaminant free as well as how to decrease hazardous exposures.

To determine knowledge gained, families will be surveyed during the program every 3 months using the Academy of Pediatrics Children’s Health Survey on Asthma, the Asthma Home Environment and Trigger Checklist and the Healthy Homes Pre- and Post-test Knowledge Survey.

“We hope to make learning about asthma enjoyable through games, hands-on activities and library activities,” Carrillo said. “There are few things more frightening than a child having difficulty breathing, and through making learning fun and easy to understand, we will teach parents how best to manage their child’s asthma and improve the child’s quality of life.”

— Rae Lynn Mitchell

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