RGH offering asthma education program

By Clarence Plank: PNT Staff Writer

Roosevelt County General Hospital is educating children ages 6-18 and adults about asthma for in-patient and out-patient care.

Alex Wynn, director of cardiopulmonary department, said the community needs asthma education.

“We had people coming in with asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia,” Wynn said. “Diseases that could have been avoided with a little bit of education.”

A former therapist, John Bridges, had a vision of wanting to get an asthma education program for this area because there isn’t one. The nearest other location is Lubbock, Wynn said.

Pediatric patients receive asthma care kits, and instruction by a licensed respiratory therapist.

The kit contains a peak flow meter to check breathing and Opti-chamber.

An Opti-chamber is a plastic tube with a removable mask, which helps people with asthma to inhale their medication. The kit also includes an instructional CD and guide in both English and Spanish.

Adult patients receive similar items and view the educational CD with a respiratory therapist present. The therapist works with the patient on proper use of the meter dose inhaler, and gives helpful hints on managing their asthma.

The instructional guide talks about environmental triggers, such as, dust, pollen, mold and animal dander, which trouble different people with asthma.

Wynn said asthma attacks are set off by certain things, which in turn causes the muscles around the bronchial tube to clinch up, much like a fist restricting the flow of air out of the lungs.

Asthmatics don’t have trouble taking in air, exhaling is where they have problems, Wynn said.

“So they breathe something in that will trigger the body,” Wynn said “The body will say ‘something is wrong, I don’t want to let this in’, and attempt to save itself by spasming, and shrinking the airway.”

Asthma education is only offered in Portales for now, but could expand to other hospitals in the area depending on the success of the program.

“Alex [Wynn] has just started the program and he wants to kick it off here in Portales,” Hospital Administrator James D’Agostino said. “I visualize it can be expanded through outreach [to the community].”

Physician referral is required, and all forms of insurance are accepted.

Information: 359-1800 extension 447.