This year we have faced extraordinary challenges, and made remarkable progress. Your dedicated support makes it possible for us to have an impact in communities throughout Illinois and beyond. As we come to the end of our program year, we want to share some of our work to prevent lung disease, promote clean air and help people with lung disease live better lives.
COVID-19 presented an unprecedented lung health challenge. We immediately turned toward providing credible information and support to vulnerable communities, including people with chronic lung disease, and our team worked to understand and address health equity issues causing more harm to underserved communities. RHA is also providing funding for important research into COVID-19 and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
Emergency Asthma Medication in Schools
In Illinois, more than 280,000 children are reported to have asthma. After successfully advocating for the law to allow schools to keep emergency asthma medication on hand, we worked with Illinois Department of Public Health to develop guidelines for schools and have proposed legislation to make medications available so that all schools can create a safer environment for students.
Peoria Coal Plant Closure & Settlement
For more than 50 years, the E.D. Edwards power plant has burned coal and contributed to dangerous levels of air pollution in central Illinois. This year, with the help of environmental partners and our pro bono legal counsel, we won an $8+ million settlement that will be reinvested in the local community, and the plant will close.
Chicago Transportation Authority Air Pollution & Health Study
With support from the Joyce Foundation and University of Chicago, we studied the relationship between exposure to air pollution and chronic illness. The study was the first of its kind in Chicago and showed that people living near high volume bus routes and garages have more lung health problems. We will use the findings to advocate for cleaner transportation and stronger air protections.
Asthma Education Expanded
Our school-based asthma education reached hundreds of additional students across Illinois. With support from the Illinois State Board of Education, we were able to reach students with asthma in high-need communities from outside St. Louis to Waukegan and everywhere between.
Vaping Response & Resources
This year we saw youth e-cigarette use skyrocket and an outbreak of vaping-related lung injury. We developed resources aimed at dispelling myths about vaping and e-cigarettes, including a guide for parents to help them talk to their kids about the dangers of vaping. These resources were shared with parents in partnership with local schools.
National Tobacco Programs
We took our evidence-based quit smoking programs to Trinity Health locations across the country. Courage to Quit® is now offered in healthcare settings from California to Connecticut. In addition, hundreds of medical professionals have learned how to talk to patients about quitting through RHA’s Counsel to Quit® course for healthcare professionals.
COPD Hospital-to-Home Guide
We worked with University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) Population Health Sciences Division to help COPD patients and caregivers transition to home after a hospital stay. The goal is to help patients stay healthy at home and reduce hospital readmissions.
Lung Cancer Research
We funded Loyola University professor Dr. Maurizio Bocchetta’s lung cancer research. He and his team are investigating whether a certain enzyme can be used to stabilize lung cells and prevent cancer growth. Researchers like Dr. Bocchetta work to increase knowledge and understanding of disease development to support those affected by lung cancer.
Your support made all this possible. Thank you. Together we will keep taking steps to prevent lung disease and promote clean air, whatever the future holds.
To learn more about the educational programs, research, and policy work your contributions support, as well as to receive updates on our work toward healthy lungs and clean air for all, sign-up for our monthly newsletter.
The need for RHA’s work is greater than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, and our programs and events depend on the support of our community. We understand many are experiencing hardship during these times, but if you are in a position to donate, we need your help. If you’d like to support RHA’s work to prevent lung disease and promote clean air, you can donate here.