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Asthma Educators Save Money (and Lives)

Ms. Hoskins with her grandsons

“We need to get the word out there,” Maybell Hoskins says. “If parents don’t know, they can’t help their child.”

Maybell has been an Asthma Educator with the Mobile C.A.R.E. Foundation Asthma Van for 14 years. She coordinates patient visits, teaches children how to prevent asthma attacks, and explains triggers to parents and local teachers. She is a local fixture in a community where 25% of children have asthma.

“People come up and tell me, ‘I had to take this child to the hospital every month. Since coming to see you, I don’t have to do that now.’ That’s rewarding.”

Maybell is well acquainted with the positive results of the Asthma Van’s work. Over her years, she’s managed the cases of over 1,700 low-income children, and has rallied the teachers and administrators of Metcalfe Elementary behind asthma control. “Every teacher in this school knows who to send kids to if they have asthma,” one of the teachers tells me. “It didn’t used to be like that.”

The work of Asthma Educators like Maybell has been proven to decrease asthma-related hospitalizations by up to 81%, and ER visits by 64%. Considering that some of the children Maybell has helped were being hospitalized every two months before joining the Asthma Van and its comprehensive education, treatment, and on-going asthma care, this translates into an overwhelming improvement in a child’s quality of life.

And Asthma Educators are cost-efficient. As an example, the national no-show rate for a community clinic is 30%. Mobile C.A.R.E. Asthma Vans currently have an average 16% no-show rate. Metcalfe, with Maybell’s help, had a no-show rate of 11% last year, with an 8% no-show rate for the last half of the year. Though that percentage may sound small, Mobile C.A.R.E. estimates that putting four more Asthma Educators into the most distressed areas it serves would save the organization $122,000 per year, as well as increase organizational impact by maximizing doctor-patient face-time.

But Maybell’s success as an Asthma Educator is far more than just numbers. It’s a cultural change in areas known for a lack of reliable information about chronic diseases. “Before I met Maybell,” one teacher says, “I didn’t realize how serious asthma could be. It’s something we monitor now, and each year we screen every new child for asthma so we can catch problems before they’re problems.” Asthma Educators save money, and transform lives.

This post originally appeared on the SoundAsthma blog.

Update: Mobile C.A.R.E. has hired a new Asthma Educator! Meet Kamari Thompson

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