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Topics > Reducing Health Disparities Initiative > What We Are Doing > African-American Children More Likely to be Hospitalized for Asthma

African-American Children More Likely to be Hospitalized for Asthma

(Left to right) Donna Kaufman, Sally McFalone and Cedrita Claiborne

This month's Reducing Health Disparities page focuses on asthma. African-American children and children living in Richmond and San Pablo (West County) are more likely to be hospitalized for asthma than the county overall. African-American children throughout Contra Costa also are almost fi ve times more likely to be hospitalized for asthma as white children. (Data is from 1998-2000. See our Community Health Indicators for Selected Cities and Places in Contra Costa available online at by clicking on Health Data.) Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs' airways that can be debilitating and life-threatening without appropriate diagnosis and treatment. CCHS is trying to reduce this disparity by addressing three key factors that contribute to this problem in our community: limited access to health care, lack of effective education about asthma management, and exposure to triggers like air pollutants.

Though asthma can be almost completely controlled with proper medication and care, the disease can be diffi cult to treat, according to Sally McFalone, who runs the Public Health Clinical Services' Pediatric Asthma Program. "Asthma is particularly diffi cult to treat in families who are dealing with other competing issues such as lack of insurance, poor living conditions and economic adversity. Our in-home visits have been most effective and we need to do more home care that is coordinated with providers at our hospital and clinics," Sally said.

Clinical Services' Pediatric Asthma Program checks for triggers in the home

Public Health Clinical Services' Pediatric Asthma Program provides regular home visits by community health workers to help families properly manage their child's asthma and get rid of environmental triggers - things like secondhand smoke, mold and pet dander - as well as obtain health coverage and care from a medical doctor or nurse practitioner. These efforts have been successful. Statistics showed that childhood asthma hospitalizations in Contra Costa decreased between 2001 and 2004. The number of children seeking care for their asthma at the North Richmond Health Center also doubled and the number of children coming back for regular asthma care quadrupled.

CCHP's Asthma Program provides education and case management

Contra Costa Health Plan's (CCHP) Asthma Program also provides a Registered Nurse to do in-home and over the phone asthma education and case management assistance to help patients get the treatment they need to stay healthy, said CCHP Asthma Program Manager Donna Kaufman. A new $20,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente will allow the program's community advocate to continue doing in-home trigger assessments. These outreach efforts help build trust and bring the service directly to clients' homes, an important service because transportation is an issue for some families. The Asthma Registry also helps CCHP track and manage patients' care.

CW&PP tackles asthma triggers in schools and outdoor air

While the Pediatric and CCHP asthma programs focus primarily on the medical management of asthma and reducing in-home triggers, our Community Wellness & Prevention Program (CW&PP) is working on the other triggers outside the home.

CW&PP's Community Action To Fight Asthma (CAFA) Project, which previously concentrated efforts in the home, is now focusing on policy change to reduce triggers in the outdoor air and school environments, according to Cedrita Claiborne, CW&PP's Asthma Program Manager.

CAFA is an initiative of The California Endowment and its policy advocacy work is accomplished through the Contra Costa Asthma Coalition. The coalition is composed of community organizations and individuals concerned with addressing the environmental aspects of childhood asthma.

CAFA's policy priorities include encouraging schools to use less toxic cleaners that can exacerbate asthma, as well as reducing the exposure of West County residents to diesel particulate matter, also an environmental trigger. Deluged By Diesel, a diesel pollution study released last year, showed that residents of Richmond, North Richmond and San Pablo are exposed to six times more diesel particulate matter per square mile than the county as a whole. To address this problem, Claiborne's program is one of several projects working with the county Community Development Department through a transportation-planning grant to study truck routes and develop a plan to keep trucks out of residential areas. "We're trying to make the places where our children live, learn and play healthier," Cedrita said. "And this benefi ts everyone."

Let us know how you like the new RHDI page. Contact Kate Fowlie via email at or call 925-313-6832.

Content provided by the Reducing Health Disparities Initiative.

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