About 20 percent of kids on Chicago’s South Side have asthma — and those are just the children who’ve been diagnosed.
The actual percentage of South Side kids who have the lung disease but don’t know it might be as high as 30 percent, said Brenda Battle, vice president of University of Chicago Medicine‘s Urban Health Initiative. That’s far higher than the 10 percent who have asthma statewide, she said.
“You can’t manage asthma in kids that don’t know they have asthma,” Battle said.
To that end, U. of C. Medicine recently announced a new initiative aimed at connecting more kids on the South Side with asthma care.
|At a call center expected to open in May, parents and others concerned about children’s possible asthma symptoms will be able to talk with nurses or trained community health workers, who can direct families to appropriate doctors.
The initiative also will double the number of community health workers who focus on asthma, from three to six. Those individuals work with doctors to help families manage kids’ asthma, such as by visiting homes to search for possible triggers and by providing ongoing education, Battle said.
Asthma may be more prevalent on the city’s South Side because of air quality issues related to now-shuttered steel mills, more smoking in homes and ongoing gun violence that keeps kids trapped inside, Battle said..
“Kids are dying on the South Side of Chicago with asthma,” Battle said. “Kids shouldn’t be dying with asthma in 2017.”
U. of C. Medicine is partnering with La Rabida Children’s Hospital, the Friend Family Health Center, and St. Bernard Hospital and Health Care Center on the initiative, which is receiving initial funding of a $500,000 matching grant from the Chicago-based Coleman Foundation meant to encourage other donors, and $250,000 from an unnamed donor.