I had the pleasure of attending the *GSK Asthma Summit in Denver, CO last month. What a great way to to celebrate Asthma awareness month. The summit featured a fantastic presentation on the the impact of asthma on school aged children. It was also hosted during the ATS Conference. My fellow asthma advocate ( and partner in good things) Kerri and I had the opportunity to quickly run through the ATS conference in between meet ups with some awesome docs. I tried to enter the main conference area however, my lack of accreditation prevented this. I was able to get some “light” reading. I score the pot of gold of medical journals. It was like candy land.
The ATS swag bag that Karen from GSK was kind enough to give Kerri and I . We split the swag.
The coveted journals. So far, I have read half of them…with a respirology textbook for support.
The view from my hotel window. The irony was that the hotel was going through a major renovation and was covered in layers of dust and other allergies. It was ironic that some some significantly severe asthmatics and advocates would be spending the night here.
“Building Bridges for Asthma Care” is a school-based program designed to empower nurses in participating elementary schools to ensure that asthmatic children are identified and provided care according to the National Institute of Health’s clinical treatment guidelines. The objectives of the program are addressing the risk of health disparities and asthma-related absenteeism, as well as its related impact on academic achievement for inner city students.” ( **GSK Press release, May 18, 2015)
More about the Building Bridges for Asthma Care can be found here.
Here are some of my highlights.
The summit highlighted the wonderful impact of a great group of people ,coming together, to make a difference in the lives of elementary students with asthma. One of the main themes of the presentation was “LAYERS” this could not resound more with me more.
The slide highlights the main “Layers” to addressing children with uncontrolled asthma.
“We need to set up layers of support, clinicians, nurses, health care assistant, educators…etc” Dr. Dr.Stanley Szefler
The Building Bridges for Asthma care is all about the integral bridges that are built to ensure that children with asthma have symptom free days and fully participate in the school experience. The child is the centre of the problem and the solution. The layers come together to build the bridge, to the solution. Since children spend the majority of their time at school. there is a statistic on the number of hours… ( I can’t seem to find that right now). The problem needs to be addressed at school, supported by many layers. Parents provided consent and access to their childs’ medical history. Throughout the school year the children that enrolled in program had their absenteeism, physical activity and asthma control level monitored by the nurses who would communicate with parents and health care providers.The program took the the information and provided the data to both parent/child and healthcare providers, to make adjustment where necessary. The initial results indicated that those enrolled in the program had a decrease in school absenteeism. There was a wonderful opportunity to speak with a parent and child of the program and here about the impact on not only on absenteeism , but asthma control and improvement in quality of life. They were also awesome and great to speak with.
The program provides direct access to care where needed and education. School nurses receive training in inhaler technique, asthma management and the Building Bridges program prior to the school year. These nurses are optimally prepared to work with asthmatics students, thus reducing school absenteeism and improving student quality of life.
I had the opportunity to meet with some the stellar school nurses. Each one of them were simply amazing. Personally, meeting both Donna Shocks ( Manger of Nursing and Student Health Service, Denver Public Schools) who was integral in the development of building the program with Dr. Szefler and Sheila Morgan (Asthma Counsellor at Children’s Hospital Colorado) were personal highlights for me . I wish I had chatted more with Dr.Szefler. Of course, I was too busy chatting with the other amazing folks.They will absolultey be my advocacy strength, when I think things are too difficult or I can’t go on. They highlighted that we really need to bring it back to being “child centred” when we run into opposition. These are words to live by.
The summit also included an opportunity for a bloggers roundtable, and a chance to dialogue with GSK on working together. It was a much more open discussion than I had anticipated, and I think there is a real opportunity to share the good work of Pharma beyond the laboratory. If the day had a clear theme, it was about layers. I think Pharama is an important layer in patient care and not just from a pharmaceutical point of view. They can be a conduit of information, provide clarity and there are surprisingly many opportunities for them to be a support network. I bet there are many programs that patients have no idea exist.
I am looking forward to continued advocacy work in the future. I was too busy meeting amazing people, that I failed at taking decent pictures or enough of them. You can catch up with the adventure in pictures by checking out Kerri’ recap.
Goodbye stormy Denver
*Note: GSK provided me with travel reimbursement to attend the GSK Asthma Summit. However, this post is voluntary, represents my own views and I was not paid to write it