The children's hospital plans to hire a pediatric pulmonary physician within six months.
By WILLIAM ALCORN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The pediatric asthma management program is alive and well at Forum Health's Tod Children's Hospital, according to Dr. Robert A. Felter, chairman and medical director and professor of pediatrics.
Contrary to what Dr. Barry Cohen, Tod's former pediatric pulmonary physician, said at a Youngstown City Council meeting April 18, the program was not discontinued because of lack of funds.
The program has been in existence several years, but has only been well funded just a couple of years ago, said Dr. Felter, who is slated to address council on the matter tonight. He said he wants to explain to council the services available in the region and those planned for the near future for children with respiratory diseases.
He said Tod hopes to hire a specialist to replace Dr. Cohen within six months.
"Asthma is the most frequent chronic childhood disease," Dr. Felter said.
Clinic: Until a new pediatric pulmonary physician is hired, Dr. Felter said Forum Health is operating a clinic in conjunction with Rainbow Babies & amp; Childrens Hospital in Cleveland to address patients' needs.
A pediatric pulmonary physician will be at the clinic one full day a month and available for telephone consultation all the time.
Children with acute problems can consult with that doctor or be seen at Rainbow or at the emergency room at Tod, Dr. Felter said.
The asthma management program doesn't do direct patient care; rather, it helps children and their parents and doctors manage the disease.
For instance, children are given classes at school on how to use medicines and inhalers and there are night classes for parents of asthmatic children, Dr. Felter said.
The focus is to reduce the days of missed school and missed work by parents who have to stay home with a sick child.
Statistics: Dr. Felter says statistics prove the program is working well.
There has been a 49 percent drop in missed school days, a 44 percent drop in emergency visits and a 57 percent in hospital admissions of asthmatic children in Mahoning County over the last year.
He said Tod has made a major investment in asthma and other respiratory diseases, raising $250,000 through various foundations in the last year, all of which was put toward asthma in the form of training and awareness.
Tod also has an asthma advisory board of doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and nonmedical citizens and parents, he said.