Asthma is a lifelong, chronic disease for which there is no cure.
Asthma is a lifelong, chronic disease for which there is no cure, but that
doesn’t mean asthma patients need to suffer. On the contrary, the
condition is generally well controlled with medications and lifestyle
changes, and those who follow their “asthma action plan” can
live healthy, unimpeded lives.
The key, though, is following that plan. Sadly, too many asthma patients
don’t. But now Saint Barnabas Medical Center offers free education
and support for asthma patients through its asthma education center.
“We are finding that many adults who have asthma don’t understand
their disease and how to treat it—and they end up in the hospital,”
says Linda Hardy, a respiratory therapist and certified asthma educator
at the medical center. “Our goal is to prevent hospitalizations
and to help patients live symptom-free, so they can enjoy a better quality
Consultations are available in both one-on-one and group settings, either
in the hospital or as an outpatient service. “For inpatients, we
offer asthma assessment, education and support, and they can return as
outpatients for further education and support,” Hardy says.
That outpatient follow-up is especially helpful. “Often, people with
asthma can feel overwhelmed,” she says. “There are so many
different medications. Patients confuse daily controller medications with
the rescue medications they need for an asthma attack. They forget how
to use their action plan, and resort to rescue meds too often, which means
their asthma is not in control.”
Hardy and other asthma educators appear at community events and health
fairs throughout the year. “We go to schools, senior centers, community
centers like the JCC—any event we’re invited to,” she
says. The certified educators cover everything patients need to know,
including how to assess symptoms, how to recognize and avoid things in
the environment that can trigger an asthma attack, how asthma affects
daily life, and how to use a peak-flow meter and various medications to
control their condition.
Even patients who have been dealing with asthma for a long time can learn
something new. “There are now lots of free digital apps for finding
out pollen counts and other things that people may not be aware of, things
that can help them manage their disease more easily,” Hardy says.
“And there are many new medications, including some that need to
be taken only once a day. Many patients used to need meds twice a day;
once a day makes it much easier to be compliant. People who have had asthma
for many years may learn at least one new thing, and that can make all
To find out more about asthma education services at Saint Barnabas Medical
Center, please call 973.322.5092.