Grant to help children with asthma in the Hill

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Responding to studies showing that one out of every 13 children in school has asthma, McAuley Ministries, the grantmaking arm of the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System, has announced a $150,000 grant over three years to Healthy Home Resources to improve the health of low-income asthmatic children.

The amount is part of nine grants totaling $1,192,540 awarded to address the health and wellness, community development, educational achievement and capacity needs of non-profits in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, Uptown and West Oakland neighborhoods.

Healthy Home Resources received partial funding for their Asthma Trigger Home Evaluation program, which for the past six years has addressed the rise in illnesses caused or complicated by the presence of indoor allergens.  Up to 300 children will receive assistance through this expanded effort, including children in 75 families in McAuley Ministries’ target area.

“McAuley Ministries welcomes opportunities to create partnerships with organizations interested in developing healthy, safe and vibrant communities,” said Michele Rone Cooper, executive director of McAuley Ministries. “And there’s a real need because left unchecked, a child’s asthma leads to missed school days and educational disparities, increased time spent in emergency rooms, higher health care costs, and a lessening of physical activity that can lead to obesity.

“According to our analysis of 2008 health care usage, residents with asthma from the Hill District, Uptown, and West Oakland generated 684 physician office visits, 99 emergency visits, 26 inpatient discharges, and 156 hospital outpatient visits.”

Healthy Home Resources staff first inspects houses and apartments, educates families on how to reduce or eliminate asthma triggers, and provides cleaning supplies including a HEPA vacuum and air purifier, dehumidifier, professional dust mop and allergen trapping bed covers.

The U.S. government has identified asthma as a top research priority; studies suggest that people with low socioeconomic status and families living in inner- cities are more likely to be affected by asthma due to higher exposure of environmental risk factors. A report from the American Lung Association shows children ages 5-17 have a significantly higher rate of asthma than any other age group, with the greatest prevalence in African-Americans.

“We are grateful for McAuley Ministries’ commitment to investing resources and improving the lives of people from all backgrounds,” said Dr. Michael J. Tobin, executive director of Healthy Home Resources.

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