Strengthening the Continuum:
Allies Against Asthma
In the proverbial village that it takes to raise a child, there are healers. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), seven communities mobilized Allies Against Asthma coalitions to address children’s asthma with new and innovative approaches based on best practices in public health and deep and nuanced understanding of their locales.
Program Highlights and Outcomes
The goal for these projects was to implement local activities that help communities improve access to and quality of clinical care, reduce asthma symptoms and foster patient and community education. The coalitions work to find the best ways to link existing resources with families, caregivers and educators of children with asthma.
Some of the most effective asthma management practices and policies implemented by these community-based coalitions included:
- Standardization of asthma action plans within regions;
- Access to care coordination and local asthma resources through a telephone hotline;
- Outreach by community health workers in neighborhoods with high rates of asthma;
- Policies that allow children to have access to asthma medications at school;
- Community education through events and seminars;
- Physician Asthma Care Education (PACE) training for professionals;
- In-home environmental remediation to reduce asthma triggers; and
- Efforts to shape asthma policy at the state level.
Allies Against Asthma Program Sites
For a profile of the program, including research strategies, tactics and results, click any of the Allies Against Asthma program titles below:
“Our work in Hampton Roads shows that when people understand that the responsibility for children’s health and quality of life rests with the whole community, real change is possible,” says Cynthia Kelly, M.D.
“Asthma is a complex disease with multiple triggers and etiologies,” says Elisa Nicholas, M.D. “Its control and treatment require a multifaceted, holistic approach. Coalitions bring a depth and coordination of services and approaches that can truly make a difference, whether it’s moving a freeway or making sure a doctor prescribes the right medicine.”
“We’ve learned many lessons about coalition building along the way,” says John Meurer, M.D. “One of the most important is how essential it is to find an entry into a targeted community. Without the trust of our targeted clients, strong partnerships among dedicated and well-meaning organizations can only go so far.”
“The Allies experience proved that we can provide mechanisms that help families navigate our current disjointed system of health care,” says Mike Schaffer.
“Before Alianza, there was little experience with collaborative work in San Juan. Allies support enabled the formation of the community-based coalition and the development of a comprehensive plan to address asthma,” says Marielena Lara.
“Clinical settings necessarily focus on acute care and medical interventions but cannot help a family after they leave the office,” says James Krieger, M.D, M.P.H. “Community health workers bridge the gap between the physician’s office and a family’s home, especially in the most stressed communities, where many of our families face huge language and cultural barriers and lack financial resources to seek additional care or support.”
“There’s no doubt in my mind that coalitions like ours save money for local businesses and health care organizations in the long run,” says Lisa Gilmore. “Few other forms of health care spending have such an impact, particularly when efforts are focused on low-income families.”