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Students with Asthma in East Feliciana Parish School District Can Now Breathe Easier

DHH commends East Feliciana Parish School District on asthma-friendly designation

Tuesday, August 23, 2011  |  Contact: Media & Communications: Phone: 225.342.1532, E-mail: dhhinfo@la.gov

BATON ROUGE —Today, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein congratulated the East Feliciana School District on becoming one of three Louisiana school districts designated as asthma-friendly by DHH's Asthma Management and Prevention Program.

"I applaud the East Feliciana Parish schools that have worked diligently to create a healthier environment for their students with asthma," DHH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein said. "Asthma symptoms often hinder a child's ability to succeed in academic settings. By implementing these best practices, the schools in East Feliciana Parish are giving students with asthma the chance to focus on what really matter - achieving their academic goals."

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways, causing wheezing (a high-pitched whistling sound), chest tightness, shortness of breath and coughing. Asthma reduces the amount of air that can pass, making it hard to breathe. In severe instances, asthma can be fatal. Although asthma cannot be cured, it can be controlled, and there are plenty of ways schools can play a part in keeping students' asthma under control.  

"We believe that in addition to providing a sound education for our students, we also provide a physical environment that is healthy and safe," said Superintendent Douglas Beauchamp, Jr.  "We anticipate the efforts that we have shown in East Feliciana Parish School System becoming an Asthma Friendly School District will manifest itself in increased asthma awareness and education of staff, less student absenteeism, more asthma action plans for our students and greater awareness by parents and students of the need to monitor their health and carry asthma medications when necessary. We are honored with this designation by the Department of Health and Hospitals."

According to 2009 Louisiana Hospital Inpatient Discharge Data, asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization for children under the age of fifteen. Young children aren't the only ones affected. The 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System found that more than 22 percent of Louisiana high school students reported having missed at least one day of school due to asthma.

To combat these astounding statistics, DHH's Asthma Management and Prevention Program implemented the Asthma Friendly Schools Initiative in the four Louisiana regions that have the highest asthma prevalence and hospitalization rates - New Orleans area, Capital area, and the Northwest and Northeast. DHH seeks to educate school personnel on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of asthma, which will improve school attendance and keep students in classrooms, where they can learn.

East Feliciana Parish is joined by DeSoto and St. Bernard parishes. In accordance with grant funding, DHH will extend an offer of participation to one school district per region per year for the next three years.    

All public schools in East Feliciana Parish collaborated with the state's asthma program, the Primary Care Providers for a Healthy Feliciana and the Greater Baton Rouge Asthma Regional Coalition to assure the school's environment exceeds the standards for good indoor air quality. East Feliciana Parish schools are helping by being supportive of students and staff with asthma; adopting asthma-friendly policies and procedures; coordinating services with physicians to increase asthma action plans for all students with asthma; and providing continued asthma education for students and staff in collaboration with the Asthma Management and Prevention Program.

To learn more about the Louisiana Asthma Management and Prevention Program, visit www.asthma.dhh.louisiana.gov

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about DHH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH's blog, Twitter account and Facebook.