With frequent abrupt changes in weather and unhealthy air quality in the Inland Empire region, many asthma and allergy sufferers can attest to the difficulties in breathing all of that causes. But did you know that asthma is the number one reason for hospitalization and school absences for children?
In San Bernardino County, about 76,000 children a year are hospitalized for asthma related illnesses. Keeping those numbers at bay was the motive for a recent visit of the Breathmobile at Simpson Elementary School in Rialto.
Parked in an inconspicuous corner of the school parking lot, the large Winnebago with its door open wide is part of a two-unit mobile specialty pediatric clinic operated by Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC) team members. Staffing on the Breathmobile consists of a Licensed Vocational Nurse, a Nurse Practitioner and a Respiratory Therapist.
“Our goal,” said John Cadavona, Supervising Respiratory Care Practitioner and Breathmobile® Coordinator, “is to keep kids in school and out of the emergency rooms.” Cadavona explained that the mobile clinic is a free clinic that serves infants to young adults visiting forty school sites a year, landing at each location about every six to eight weeks in rotation. The clinics are open year-round, including summer, and are closed only during Christmas and New Year’s.
Once registered for The Breathmobile program the clinical visit includes vitals being taken, lung function tests administered appropriately for age considerations, and family education given about medications along with proper use of them with equipment.
“We work in conjunction with the child’s regular family care provider to keep their asthma and allergy concerns in check,” said Cadavona, “and we encourage parents to call us for an appointment at any time to ask questions or have a check up on their child’s progress.”
Martin Barboza of Victorville was there with his two-year-old son Shai who was diagnosed with asthma at a very early age. “I bring my son to the Breathmobile since it is convenient to his day care and my work site. I like that by coming here, his asthma care is steady and we’re not having to guess how he’s doing. It’s helped us so much to avoid trips over and over to the emergency room; prior to this clinic, that was the only way we had to control the asthma issues,” Barboza shared.
After his initial check-in to his appointment, Shai was seen by Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Leslie Ortiz, who asked Barboza about symptoms and the day-to-day routine of his medication use. After a quick check of his nose and ears, she offered reminders of proper use of the medicines for preventative purposes.
“Each mobile clinic can complete up to 21 appointments a day,” said Cadavona, “and we operate two mobile units each day, one in the Inland Empire region and the other in the High Desert locales.”
Anyone who is interested in registering their child for a visit with the Breathmobile can call the unit in their area: 909-498-6277 for the Inland Empire and 909-213-3341 for the High Desert areas. More information can be seen on their website at: https://www.arrowheadmedcenter.org/srvOutBreathMobile.aspx.