A Worried Mom
Yessenia Torres’ young daughter, Kaylee, woke in the middle of the night choking and unable to breathe.
Afraid for Kaylee’s life, Yessenia rushed her to the Sadowsky Family Pediatric Emergency Department at Baystate Children’s Hospital.
The situation was all the more frightening because this wasn’t the first time it had happened. “It was devastating and I was so worried,” the Springfield resident says.
A CHRONIC DISEASE THAT AFFECTS THE WHOLE FAMILY
Both of Yessenia’s little girls, Kaylee (age two) and Adriyana (age five), have asthma, a lung disease in which the airways are squeezed by the muscles around them making it hard to breathe. Although the children were taking asthma medicine, something was still setting off the attacks.
Asthma can be emotionally and physically taxing on the whole family. “A child’s asthma attacks may affect a parent’s ability to go to work, the child’s attendance at school, and disrupt sleep in the household,” says pulmonary nurse Michele Hart.
Between working eight-hour shifts, taking care of the girls, making sure Kaylee was taking her asthma medicine, and rushing to the emergency room, Yessenia was overwhelmed.
ASTHMA IN SPRINGFIELD
Yessenia’s family is not alone. Asthma is widespread in Springfield. According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America (AAFA), Springfield has the highest number of asthma-related emergency room visits in the United States.
Many things can prompt (or “trigger”) asthma— including pollution from highways and factories, pollen, and old houses and schools with mold.
EMPOWERING COMMUNITY MEMBERS WITH DIY SOLUTIONS
Although most people can’t control the air pollution from a factory, they can control elements in their homes that set off asthma.
To help Yessenia and her family, Baystate Health caregivers made a house call.
Baystate Health employs community health workers for the Springfield Healthy Homes Program and Revitalize CDC who go into homes and look at asthma triggers like mold, dust, scented candles, cleaning products and cigarette smoke. With Yessenia’s permission, the health workers visited and provided solutions.
“They made a big difference,” Yessenia says. “They showed me what I can do to change things. For instance, how I can clean without using bleach, since bleach is an asthma trigger.” The health workers also replaced things that had mold and educated Yessinia about how to keep her home safe going forward.
“Yessenia is a terrific parent who wants to learn more and wants to make changes to provide a healthier environment to keep her girls healthy,” says Jessica Collins, executive director of the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, who works with the Springfield Healthy Homes Program.
Now Yessinia has the tools to manage the situation and prevent those terrifying experiences that led to emergency room visits. “It was such a relief,” Yessenia says. “It made me happy. It made my girls happy. Now they feel like, ‘Okay, Mommy has this under control.’”
“Yessenia and her daughters haven’t been to the emergency room in months,” Michele says. Now Kaylee and Adriyana can safely play and just be kids.
Learn more about asthma care at Baystate Health.