Allercy and Asthma Health


Spring 2009

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Respiratory Therapist Diane Rhodes Wins EPA’s National Asthma Award

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Respiratory Therapist Diane Rhodes Wins National Asthma Award

RhodesAll over the country, respiratory therapists are playing a key role in asthma management. Last December, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized an outstanding therapist.

Respiratory therapist and AARC member Diane Rhodes, BBA, RRT, AE-C, received the EPA’s National Special Achievement Award for “her efforts in ensuring students, teachers and staff have a healthy environment in which to work.” The award was presented during the 9th Annual Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools National Symposium in Washington, DC.

As director of asthma education for the North East Independent School District (NEISD) in San Antonio, TX, this respiratory therapist has developed a systemic approach to asthma management from the school district’s perspective that’s based on four components of asthma control: awareness, medication, environment, and education. The EPA’s Tools for Schools program has been a big part of the effort, supplying resource materials, education, and a kit on how to address environmental concerns in a cost effective manner.

The initiative has included:

  • Carpet removal in classrooms
  • Ensuring every campus has adequate custodial staff to maintain clean classrooms and teachers understand their role in achieving a clean environment
  • A policy/protocol for medication management aimed at students who did not previously have access to their reliever medications at school
  • Education of the nursing staff to be more proactive on asthma management
  • Development of an asthma awareness letter that goes out to every parent, along with a 25-question asthma survey parents can complete online
  • Incorporation of asthma education/air quality into the district’s Coordinated Approach to Child Health program
  • “Asthma Blow Outs” – educational events held at local schools where more than 1,000 people, ranging from teachers and coaches to parents and kids, have learned more about the condition.

Rhodes says the initiative has resulted in a 50% reduction in inhaler usage in area schools during the early weeks of school, fewer missed days of school for kids with asthma, fewer calls for emergency transport to hospitals, and earlier intervention for children with asthma exacerbations.

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