2-year program is holistic effort to ease asthma in Bexar children

In budget hearings Sept. 13, the San Antonio City Council approved $751,000 for a two-year pilot program to reduce asthma hospitalizations in high-risk children. The effort’s principal investigator, Mandie Svatek, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at UT Health San Antonio, said the program is a holistic approach to lowering the city’s childhood asthma burden.

“In 2014, the pediatric asthma hospitalization rate in Bexar County was more than 170 percent of that of the state,” said Dr. Svatek, who chairs the San Antonio Asthma Coalition. “This cost more than $3,400 per child for inpatient treatment. Children with asthma also miss more than a week of school each year in the county.”

The Pediatric Managing Asthma Through Care at Home (PMATCH) program will send community health workers (promotoras) to the homes of high-risk children to assess allergen exposures, environmental hazards and other social disparities of health that affect a child’s asthma symptomatology.

The program will coordinate with each child’s primary care provider, asthma case manager and school nurse to proactively reduce the number of children hospitalized in Bexar County. Families will also be referred for needed resources to organizations such as Haven for Hope, medical legal partnerships, and the San Antonio Food Bank, Dr. Svatek said.

“Our program is modeled after programs in other states, including some in Michigan,” Dr. Svatek said. Partners of UT Health San Antonio’s Department of Pediatrics include the UT School of Public Health and the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District. Referrals for medical care will be made to all health systems, including University Health System, Baptist Health System, Methodist Healthcare and CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System.

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