University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler
Approximately 9 percent of children in Texas have asthma, while rates in Northeast Texas are disproportionately higher at 14 percent. The region consists of mostly rural communities with a few small metropolitan areas. Environmental triggers such as higher than average smoking rates, pollution and air impacts from high pollen, and mold exposures both outdoors and indoors, as well as substandard housing in Northeast Texas, contribute to these high rates. Access to primary or specialty care is limited due to a lack of providers, which leads to increases in emergency department visits and subsequently missed school days due to asthma-related symptoms. In response to this health care challenge, in 2008 the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler initiated a mobile asthma program coined “The Breath of Life Mobile Pediatric Asthma Clinic” (BOLMPAC). The mobile asthma program travels not only to schools, but to other locations such as apartment complexes, churches and community health centers, serving 2,500 unique patients a year. Comprehensive asthma care is provided, and because asthma and environmental triggers go hand in hand, all patients receive allergy testing and treatment, if indicated. Patients that have severe or uncontrolled asthma receive a home assessment provided by a BOLMPAC community health worker. This successful program has seen a significant decrease in missed school days and a 50 percent decrease in emergency department visits.