PALMDALE — Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger on Friday unveiled a new mobile clinic that will visit Antelope Valley schools to treat youngsters with asthma and allergies. Operated by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services and based out of the High Desert Regional Health Center in Lancaster, the Antelope Valley Asthma Breathmobile will provide asthma management including tests, medications, and education for children and their parents.
“There is a huge need for the Breathmobile — evidenced by our data and the widespread support for this program,” Barger said at the mobile clinic’s unveiling at Dos Caminos School in Palmdale. “The L.A. County Department of Public Health confirmed that 14.2% of children in the Antelope Valley have asthma, nearly double that of the countywide childhood asthma prevalence rate. That’s far too many of our youth — from infants to teenagers — who are suffering.”
Covered with colorful images and a motto reading “Asthma Can’t Hold Me Back,” the Breathmobile was unveiled in a ceremony attended by children, parents, Palmdale School District trustees and other community leaders at Dos Caminos School in the Desert View Heights neighborhood adjoining Palmdale.
Palmdale School District was the first local school district to join the program. Agreements are finalized or almost finalized with Lancaster School District, Antelope Valley Union High School District, Wilsona School District and Westside Union School District, and others are expected to join as well.
The Breathmobile is a 35-foot-long motorhome staffed by a nurse practitioner, a registered nurse, a licensed vocational nurse and two community health workers. It will visit schools on a rotating schedule every six to eight weeks for staff to see children whose parents sign them up to participate.
The Breathmobile’s goal is to help keep children’s asthma well controlled and decrease visits to hospital emergency rooms and urgent care centers, and to reduce the number of days children miss school.
Checking and treating children at their schools is more convenient for families than scheduling doctor visits, which usually require missing more school, officials said. The Breathmobile staff will provide a treatment plan for each child for parents to share with the child’s regular physician. The L.A. County Department of Health Services personnel who will staff the Antelope Valley Breathmobile trained with the staff of the Breathmobiles operated through Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center in metropolitan Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Breathmobile was established in 1995 as the first mobile pediatric asthma management program in the United States.
The Breathmobile will treat asthma sufferers starting at age 2, so parents can bring younger children to schools to be seen when the Breathmobile visits. Among the children seen by the Los Angeles Breathmobiles, 85% reach “well controlled” status for their asthma by their third visit, and 96% by their third visit, according to county statistics. Children who stay in the program for a year or longer have average reductions of 68% in emergency room visits, 87% in hospitalizations and 82% in missed school days.
The childhood asthma rate in the Antelope Valley is estimated to be 65% higher than the U.S. average. A survey done for the county Department of Public Health’s 2017 Key Indicators of Health analysis said 14.2% of children from infants to 17 year olds have asthma in the Antelope Valley, compared to 7.4% countywide and 8.6% nationally.