June 26, 2006
Contact: Kaylyn Kendall Dines
Public Invited to Free Asthma Awareness Health Fair in New Brunswick
NEW BRUNSWICK — Families are invited to attend a free Asthma Awareness Health Fair, which is being hosted by medical students from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, on Sat., July 15, at 10 a.m., at the Eric B. Chandler Health Center, 277 George Street, New Brunswick.
Victor Peng and Sergio Seijas, the two student coordinators, are hosting the fair as part of the Community Oriented Primary Care Summer Assistantship at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Health professionals plan to educate participants about indoor and outdoor pollutants that trigger asthma and ways to prevent children’s asthmatic episodes. Blood pressure screenings and diabetes education information will be available. Children will have an opportunity to play games, like Asthma Tic Tac Toe and Asthma Bingo.
By hosting this fair the medical students, Middletown resident Peng and Newark resident Seijas, aim to highlight risks and provide solutions for people in the New Brunswick community who have this chronic medical condition.
"Even though New Brunswick is known as the ‘Health Care City,’ outcomes from a Healthier New Brunswick Community Survey indicate challenges still exist in meeting the healthcare needs of the community,” said Racquel Benford, executive director of the Eric B. Chandler Health Center. “For this reason, the Eric B. Chandler Health Center participates in the National Health Disparities Collaboratives in the areas of Asthma and Diabetes. I am excited that the medical students have taken a proactive step in coordinating this Asthma Awareness Health Fair."
“Statistics show there are 6.2 million children in the United States who suffer from asthma, which accounts for one third of all pediatric emergency room visits,” said Peng, a second-year student at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “In addition, asthma is the fourth most common reason for pediatric physician office visits and is one of the leading causes of school absenteeism.”
“According to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, between 2001 and 2003 approximately 455,000 adults, or seven percent of New Jersey’s adult population, have asthma,” said Seijas, a second-year medical student at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “Since asthma affects 20 million Americans, we are striving to make a difference in the community we serve.”
In communities with large percentages of Hispanic and African American residents like New Brunswick the prevalence of asthma has been shown to be inordinately high. Although in the general population of schoolchildren asthma prevalence ranges from six to eight percent, in low-income communities, the prevalence is two to three times higher.
Through COPC, Peng and Seijas are conducting their eight-week summer assistantship program at the Eric B. Chandler Health Center. Peng and Seijas are two of 20 students in various health disciplines who have partnered with organizations and agencies throughout the state to develop interventions that are designed to improve health outcomes in medically underserved populations.
COPC is sponsored and administered by the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Department of Family Medicine, the UMDNJ-School of Health Related Professions Physician Assistant Program, and the New Jersey Primary Care Association’s National Health Service Corps NJ SEARCH Program. The goal of the summer assistantship program is to enhance the skills of future primary care clinicians, in public health, interdisciplinary care, advocacy and cultural competence.
UMDNJ is the nation’s largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and a school of public health on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.