About Us

Asthma is the most common chronic pediatric disease, affecting more than 8.9 million children and adolescents in the U.S. (National Health Interview Survey – NHIS, 2004)– including 232,770 in Michigan; 11,755 of them from Kent County alone (Michigan Department of Community Health – MDCH).  It is the most frequent reason for pediatric hospitalization due to chronic disease with an estimated cost in Michigan of $394,000,000 per year, with indirect costs over $170,000,000 and direct costs over $224,000,000 (MDCH).  And because of factors such as second-hand smoke and environmental pollution, those numbers are increasing.  More children are experiencing symptoms.  The National Center for Health Statistics reports that between 1982 and 1991, there was a 56% increase in asthma attacks in children.

Asthma is also found in 21.3 million adults (NHIS, 2004), including 724,054 in Michigan (MDCH).  The prevalence is increasing in all age groups but in children more rapidly than adults:  for children 4 and younger, prevalence rose 160% between 1980 and 1994.  Mortality is also increasing:  60% in the last 20 years with just over 4,000 deaths due to asthma in the United States annually.

In 1994, several individuals from area health care institutions and asthma support groups formed the Asthma Network of West Michigan (formerly the Kent County Pediatric Asthma Network and Pediatric and Adult Asthma Network of West Michigan) with hopes of establishing a centralized asthma resource to focus on collaboration and education.  Since its inception, the Network has educated thousands of caretakers of children as well other people who touch a child’s life – pediatricians, family practitioners, emergency medicine physicians, resident physicians, parents, teachers, principals, school nurses, and other professionals who work with children, as well as adults with asthma.

In 1997, the Asthma Network of West Michigan was awarded 501 (c)(3) status and set about it’s mission:  Improving the health and quality of life of individuals with asthma.  Network volunteers have carefully set forth a Strategic Plan which details organizational goals and objectives.  In this way, tasks are clearly identified and volunteers have an opportunity to review long-range goals and contribute their talents most efficiently.

Through the Asthma Network of West Michigan, based at Saint Mary’s Health Care, specially trained professionals work with parents and children on ways to cope with this condition.  Through the establishment of the program arm of Asthma Network of West Michigan - hundreds of ‘at-risk’ children with moderate to severe asthma have been enrolled in case management services.  Because asthma more commonly affects minority children with greater mortality, project coordinators have targeted urban, low-income families.  These inner-city children have been included in the intensive home-based asthma education project and have demonstrated significant clinical outcomes including:  fewer emergency room visits, fewer hospitalizations, and fewer days hospitalized.

Research data and program outcomes from the project have resulted in significant savings to local health care providers.  Consequently, the degree of efficacy of asthma education and case management as an effective means of prevention and intervention are seriously being evaluated by health care advocates – the Asthma Network of West Michigan plans to continue to lead the way.

About Us