(Photo Courtesy of ST. CHARLES)
St. Charles Bend is one of two hospitals in Oregon and among 89 hospitals nationwide that are involved in a project designed to improve the care children with asthma receive in the emergency department and in the hospital.
Led by Dr. Sunitha Kaiser and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the project — Pathways for Improving Pediatric Asthma Care (PIPA)—is designed to help remove the barriers physicians face to consistently practicing evidence-based medicine. Through the Value in Inpatient Pediatrics Network, participating hospitals like St. Charles Bend are receiving content and quality improvement guidance.
Asthma affects nearly ten percent of American children, making it one of the most common reasons children visit the emergency department and are admitted to the hospital, said Dr. Suzanne Mendez, medical director of the pediatric hospitalist program at St. Charles Bend.
“Getting better control of asthma would decrease hospital admissions, decrease costs and increase children’s quality of life,” she said.
When children suffer an asthma attack, Mendez said, their smooth muscles constrict around their small airways. At the same time, they experience inflammation. Getting inflammation under control requires steroids, which take time to go into effect.
One of the metrics St. Charles Bend will monitor and aim to improve is how quickly children with asthma receive steroids in the emergency department, which could result in a decrease in hospital admissions and out-of- area transfers.
“Part of the project that we’re taking on is getting steroids to kids earlier,” she said. “So, hopefully they start turning around faster and they don’t end up getting admitted to the hospital or getting sent to Portland because we’re getting on top of it as fast as we can.”
Through the project, children with asthma seen at St. Charles Bend will receive the same high-quality and evidence-based care available at large, academic children’s hospitals. The project provides tools that will help support health care providers in selecting and providing appropriate medications, selecting appropriate tests and effectively counseling families. The project will also offer Continuing Medical Education and American Board of Pediatrics Maintenance of Certification credits to physicians who meet the qualifying criteria.
“It’s really exciting to be involved in a nationwide project with all kinds of experts from the different children’s hospitals,” Mendez said. “Being chosen as one of the 89 sites was quite an honor for our group. I think we’ll learn a lot about not only how to better take care of our kids with asthma, but also quality improvement in general.”