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What would you do if a chronic condition caused you to visit the emergency room (ER) as many as 100 times in your life?

Most people would give up any hope of a better quality of life.

That’s where June Mack of Detroit was when she received an invitation to take part in a new health education program.

At 70 years old, June guesses she’s been to the ER at least 100 times because of her asthma.

She came to accept ER visits as a part of life. She also accepted that there would always be something new or unexpected that would trigger her asthma.

Asthma’s Impact

Just doing basic tasks – walking up stairs, spending time outside, even talking – all became challenging for June when her asthma made breathing a struggle.

June says she never knew asthma was a lifelong, chronic condition that affected all facets of her life. She always thought she’d outgrow the disease. Instead, she found herself facing new challenges with asthma at each stage of her life.

With regular ER visits happening many times a year, June’s life was often interrupted by her asthma.

The Invitation

Then in 2022, June was invited to join the HEAL program.

HEAL stands for Health Equity Advancement and Leadership. It’s a program of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) designed to help reach people facing the highest burden of asthma.

HEAL provides asthma education and home visits to address asthma triggers. HEAL also connects people to asthma specialists to help improve asthma control.

June accepted the invitation. For the first time in her life, she saw a specialist who helped manage her asthma and allergies.

Detroit’s Challenge

Heavy air pollution is a top concern for Detroit residents. Detroit is ranked the #5 most challenging place to live with asthma in AAFA’s Asthma Capitals™ 2023 report.

Detroit has higher than average asthma prevalence and a higher rate of deaths due to asthma than other cities in AAFA’s report.

Also, people who bear the greatest burden of asthma are  least likely to have access to specialists and asthma education.

HEAL aims to change that by working with community health workers (CHWs) in cities like Detroit. The program provides both educational materials and access to specialists.

The goal is to give people with asthma the tools they need for successful self-management of their condition. This could include medicines, help identifying and managing triggers, and an Asthma Action Plan tailored to their specific needs.

June Found Hope

June’s case shows that proactive asthma education and support can have a meaningful impact.

The HEAL program helped June find a new life. As June said, “Asthma can’t stop me now!”

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