BATON ROUGE—Today, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein congratulated the St. Bernard Parish 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 St. Bernard 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 St. Bernard 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 it is our responsibility as educators to maintain a healthy environment for our students, and we're proud to implement changes that are in their best interest," said Superintendent Doris Voitier. "We're honored that the Department of Health and Hospitals has designated the St. Bernard Parish School District as asthma friendly and look forward to our students having fewer medical emergencies, better attendance, improved alertness and fewer symptoms as a result."
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 four Louisiana regions - 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.
St. Bernard Parish is joined by East Feliciana and DeSoto 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 St. Bernard Parish collaborated with the state's asthma program, Open World Family Services and the Greater New Orleans Asthma Regional Coalition to assure the school's environment exceeds the standards for good indoor air quality. St. Bernard 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.