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UCLA Helps Kids With Asthma

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Children in Southern California may soon be breathing a little easier, thanks to the UCLA Breathmobile, an asthma clinic on wheels that provides free diagnosis, treatment, medication and education at school sites for children with asthma.

Staffed by a physician, a registered nurse and a patient-service worker, the RV-style UCLA Breathmobile will be visiting some 25 schools in the Long Beach and Wilmington area, with follow-up visits commencing every six to eight weeks. The Breathmobile is expected to begin treating children in the Long Beach Unified School District early next month.

The Breathmobile will receive an official ribbon-cutting launch at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA on Wednesday, Sept. 23, at 1 p.m., organized by the hospital and the California Chapter of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). The project was developed by the California AAFA chapter to address rising morbidity rates from asthma in high-risk, disadvantaged children.

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"With our kid-friendly UCLA Breathmobile, we look forward to bringing our services to the community and helping countless children with the diagnosis and management of asthma," said Dr. Maria Garcia Lloret, assistant clinical professor of pediatric allergy and immunology at Mattel Children's Hospital. "We hope these visits will improve the day-to-day lives of families who are coping with this chronic condition."

Evaluation studies have demonstrated dramatic improvement for patients treated by the Breathmobile, including fewer emergency room visits, improved pulmonary function, a decrease in school absenteeism and an improved quality of life.

There are currently 12 Breathmobiles operating throughout Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. They visit more than 200 elementary, middle and high schools, as well as several comprehensive health clinics in Southern California.

Asthma is the number one cause of school absenteeism among children, accounting for more than 14 million missed days of school. It is the most common chronic condition among children, affecting nearly 5 million kids under the age of 18. Each year, asthma accounts for more than 10 million outpatient visits and 500,000 hospitalizations.