Brody, Vidant, given grant to help low-income families battling asthma

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The Brody School of Medicine, Vidant Medical Center and the Legal Aid of North Carolina are teaming up to tackle issues with asthma in low-income families.

Helped in part by a $375,000 grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, the collaborative effort will focus on families living in homes that have been impacted by natural disasters. Organizers said the devastation brought on by Hurricane Matthew was a big factor in receiving the grant.

The money will help cover costs to get health professionals into homes that may have sustained damage from a storm, or are just in poor condition.

“It’s going to provide training for my case managers to be able to go into the homes and do better interviews with the families to help identify some of the health disparities in areas that they’re needing help with,” said Theresa Blount, coordinator of Vidant’s Pediatric Asthma Program.

Blount said oftentimes the environment in which someone lives can have a big impact on how well asthma can be treated. By visiting the home itself, Blount said they can pass along what they find to physicians to better treat the asthma. They also work with Legal Aid of North Carolina to find low cost fixes to the problems in the home.

Dr. Greg Kearney with Brody’s Department of Public Health, said the home visits also are educational.

“They may be having a leaking roof that is causing mold. They may be having insect or rodent problems in the homes, and they’re not aware that by law they have rights as renters to have these things repaired when it’s clearing affecting their kid with asthma,” he said.

Kearney said this grant is especially important because of the poor conditions many in the East live in. The money will enable them to do around 30 home visits a year, while also helping hundreds of children suffering from asthma.

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