Governor Signs New ‘Stock Asthma Rescue Medication’ Law Making Schools Safer for Children with Asthma

Governor Signs New ‘Stock Asthma Rescue Medication’ Law Making Schools Safer for Children with Asthma

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 7, 2018

CONTACT:
Erica Krutsch
Director, Marketing and Communications
Respiratory Health Association
Desk: (312) 628-0225
Cell: (734) 262-4527

Illinois schools are one step closer to creating a safer environment for students living with asthma. Stock Asthma Rescue Medication in Schools (SB 3015) was passed by the Illinois Legislature this spring and signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner on August 3rd.

Illinois now joins ten other states including Indiana and Missouri in adopting similar policies regarding stock asthma medication. Early results in other states indicate that these policies reduce the need for 911 calls and EMS transports as a result of asthma attacks. Initial data also demonstrate that these policies reach populations of need and improve health outcomes.

Stock Asthma Rescue Medication in Schools—SB3015, now Public Act 100-0726—improves access improves access to life-saving medication by allowing schools to stock ‘undesignated’ asthma rescue medication and allowing school nurses and trained school staff to administer the medication at the first signs of respiratory distress. This legislation builds on a 2014 Illinois law allowing schools to stock undesignated epinephrine auto-injectors to protect those who may experience a severe allergy in school.

Across Illinois, more than 330,000 children have reported asthma; however, fewer than twenty-five percent of those children have their asthma under proper control. That means three out of four kids living with asthma are likely to experience symptoms of respiratory distress, leading to increased emergency department visits and hospitalizations.

“We applaud our lawmakers for their leadership and for taking this important action which will better equip schools to handle asthma emergencies,” said Joel Africk, President and CEO of Respiratory Health Association. “This new law, which allows schools to stock asthma rescue medication, builds on existing school policies to create a safer environment for all. We look forward to working with all stakeholders on the implementation of this law.”

“Asthma attacks can occur without warning and because of this, children with asthma should always have access to asthma rescue medication (Albuterol). Asthma rescue medication administration in a school setting allows kids to remain in the classroom and avoids costly emergency room visits. Without this medication, the attack often worsens and can become life-threatening,” said Craig E. Batterman, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Southern Illinois University Medicine.

Asthma causes an estimated 300,000 missed schools days per year in Illinois, which in turn leads to days of work missed by adult caregivers. Asthma-related annual health care costs in Illinois are projected to reach $1.9 billion by 2020.

“Illinois has made great strides in helping children with asthma attend school without the fear that their schools will be unprepared for an inevitable asthma attack,” said State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria). “SB 3015 will help children even more by allowing asthma medication to be kept at the school, similar to EpiPens.”

“Thankfully, administering albuterol has minimal side effects.  By comparison, the consequences of not treating or delaying treatment of a child experiencing respiratory distress can be dangerous. SB 3015 will give schools the ability to quickly respond to asthma emergencies and work with students and families on proper asthma management at school,” said Amy Zimmerman, a Program Director at Legal Council for Health Justice.

Respiratory Health Association and Legal Council for Health Justice worked together to pursue a stock asthma rescue medication policy in Illinois. They published an issue brief assessing the fit and feasibility of stock asthma rescue medication in Illinois schools, which is available for download on Respiratory Health Association’s website resphealth.org.

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Respiratory Health Association has been a local public health leader in Illinois since 1906. The organization remains committed to advancing innovative and meaningful policies and programs to improve the lives of those living with asthma.  We have been one of the state’s leading advocates for asthma prevention and management policies and provide asthma management programs for underserved communities. For more information, visit www.resphealth.org

Legal Council for Health Justice conducts education, outreach, and advocacy to address discrimination, disadvantage, and disparities in health, wealth, and well-being across the lifespan of vulnerable populations. Through our award winning medical-legal partnerships we target people impacted by chronic, disabling and stigmatizing health and social conditions to empower them to lead fulfilling lives, reach their self-determined goals, and secure and plan their futures. For more information visit www.legalcouncil.org.

RHA Issues Reports on Clean Energy and Health and Reimbursement for Asthma Services

Last month, RHA released two groundbreaking new reports on lung health. The first discusses Clean Energy and Lung Health. With 2017’s Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act, Illinois is increasing investments in green energy sources, such as wind and solar, as well as energy efficiency initiatives to make better use of existing power. What does this mean for our health? RHA examines how green energy displaces harmful emissions from dirty energy sources, namely coal fired power plants and helps mitigate climate change, which comes with its own set of health concerns. This publication ultimately makes the case that clean, renewable energy isn’t just an environmental issue, but a compelling matter of public health.

In the second, RHA and collaborators at Chicago Asthma Consortium, American Lung Association, and Sinai Urban Health Institute submitted to the Illinois Department of Public Health a report on sustainable financing for in-home asthma interventions in Illinois. There are a number of evidence-based in-home asthma management interventions that are not being widely implemented due to a lack of funding, including reimbursement through Illinois Medicaid. In this report, RHA and its co-authors identify several potential funding mechanisms for in-home asthma management, including: adding Community Health Workers (CHW) as authorized providers; establish a Health Home program through Illinois Medicaid; and amending contracts with Medicaid Managed Care Organization to utilize CHW services.

Matt Cantu Runs for His Family

Matt Cantu has lots of good reasons to run with RHA’s Lung Power Team, but initially, he was worried about fundraising.

Now, he’s over 75% of the way to his $1,500 goal.

His first donors were his wife’s parents. Then, Matt put out a request for donations on social media, but he did more than just copy and paste a link. He made his posts – including the message on his Lung Power Team fundraising page – a testament to his decision to run the Chicago Marathon.

“Make sure you write something about why you care,” Matt advises.

Matt is as green to marathons as he is to the world of fundraising. But his reasons for running are rooted in respect for family and his health. Remembering the why helps him tackle these new challenges.

“If you’re not listening to anything while you run, you play things in your mind. It’s easy to give up until you remember all of the reasons why you’re doing it. It helps you to keep going.”

His reasons include his wife, Megan, who lives with asthma and sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis involves collections of cells that inflame organs in the body, including the lungs. Four years ago, she struggled to breathe. Her symptoms improved dramatically with medical care and a healthier, more active lifestyle.

Although her experience isn’t typical of many people living with sarcoidosis, and she still has both conditions, she’s running 5Ks now.

When she first invited Matt to join her last year, running was painful, but he continued to work hard to improve his running times. Now Megan – who Matt describes as his best friend – is always there to support him for his races.

Although racing is a fun challenge and a bonding activity for them both, they carry a sense of responsibility to stay healthy for themselves and their family – because Matt also runs in remembrance.

Megan’s grandfather, Robert E. Lundberg, lost his life to lung cancer last June.

“He was a Vietnam Vet; that was something that he was really proud of. He wore his Vietnam hat every day; he walked the lifestyle of a soldier. When that disease took over him… to see his body just go down…” Matt trails off in thought.

Robert was a longtime smoker. Though he battled bravely, his health continued to deteriorate. After witnessing this painful progression, as well as the decisions of other family members to become healthier and quit smoking, Matt decided he wanted to get more fit. He believes that if more people witnessed a loved one go through what Robert did, they would make the same choice.

“He went from a really strong man to someone who couldn’t do anything. It was a sad thing, but I always try to learn from every situation that I’m in.”

Matt personalized his Lung Power Team fundraising approach by sharing Megan and Robert’s stories. This helped his network connect their support to RHA’s efforts, such as helping people quit smoking through Courage to Quit and funding lung cancer research. Many have already joined Matt in making a difference as he prepares to run the Chicago marathon on October 8, 2017.

Visit Matt’s fundraising page to support his goals.

Spots for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon are gone but you can still make every step of your next race count. Join the Lung Power Team for some great benefits. You can help RHA achieve healthy lungs and clean air for all!