RESPIRA Helps Latino Children in the Newark Area to Breathe Easier
NEWARK — “Respira” is the Spanish word meaning “breathe.”
So it is only fitting that a new program, designed to provide bilingual medical and educational services to Latino families in the Newark area (Essex County) who have asthmatic children, has been named The Children’s RESPIRA Education Program. The program is funded by a $332,664 grant from The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, with additional in-kind support from Newark community organizations such as ACORN and Programs for Parents.
Located at The University Hospital (UH) on the UMDNJ campus in Newark, the program educates both parents and children about the development, triggers, and treatment of asthma. In addition, RESPIRA’s asthma specialists provide each participating child with an individualized Asthma Action Plan, as required by the state of New Jersey. Families without medical insurance may qualify for medication vouchers and will be followed by the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School’s Asthma Center of Excellence.
“The Asthma Center of Excellence is committed to helping Latino families who often face limitations such as language barriers and difficult socioeconomic conditions,” said Evelyn Montalvo-Stanton, M.D., FAAP, a pediatric lung specialist at The University Hospital and New Jersey Medical School, who serves as lead researcher for the program.
Dr. Montalvo-Stanton added that many families not have the medical knowledge necessary to manage their children ’s asthma conditions.
“Some families may use the emergency room as the primary way for treating their child’s asthma, and therefore have an inconsistent health care provider,” said Dr. Montalvo-Stanton. In addition, some families are incorrectly using prescribed asthma medications, and others are using ineffective folk remedies to treat asthma symptoms.
Families entering the RESPIRA program begin by attending a two-hour education session, which includes individualized sessions for parents and children. This is followed by two home visits, conducted by a bilingual nurse case manager. Three weeks after the education session, the nurse case manager visits the family at their home to assess how the child is doing, to obtain information about any hospitalizations or emergency room visits, to assess asthma triggers in the home setting, and to provide supplemental asthma education about avoiding allergens.
Children in urban areas are more vulnerable to asthma than those in suburban areas due to increased exposure to indoor allergens such as second-hand smoke, insect allergens, mold, pet dander and nitrogen dioxide, a by-product of gas stoves and space heaters.
“We anticipate that this program will increase compliance with therapy, decrease emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and school absences, and improve quality of life” for asthma patients,” said Dr. Montalvo-Stanton.
Organizations interested in partnering with The Children’s RESPIRA Education Program to provide services to the community may contact Dr. Montalvo-Stanton at (973) 972-8801.
The University Hospital is the principal teaching hospital for UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School. Located in the Central Ward of Newark, the hospital offers the highest quality of care across many medical specialties.
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 its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates The University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.