In-Home Asthma Education Program Helping Families in Bangor 

Public health officials say asthma rates for Maine children are higher than the national average. And the triggers and treatments for asthma can vary from child to child, making it hard for parents to manage.That’s why a new program is underway in Bangor, bringing public educators right into people’s homes.Four-year-old Abigail MacDonald has asthma. “A-B-B-Y. This is how I do it in sign language when I can’t talk.”Her mom, Linda, says they had a hard time managing her asthma until their doctor referred them to the new “Open Airways At Home” program through the city of Bangor.”It’s the first time ever that I’ve felt secure about what’s going on,” Linda says.”The beauty of being able to go into the house to do this is that I get to talk about some of the triggers that might be specific to that individual’s home,” says Elaine Beaulieu.Beaulieu, a public health nurse, made two visits to their house, teaching the whole family about asthma and helping them with Abigail’s medical equipment.”We didn’t have to take off work for her to come. And Abigail was included in it, which was so very, very helpful,” MacDonald says.They also drew up an action plan so they know what to do when early warning signs hit, and can start management changes early. One of the goals of the program is to help avoid emergency hospital visits.MacDonald says the program gave her something she couldn’t find through a maze of doctors.”They can’t take the time that I need and she was able to. So I think that was the key for me. She could just sit with me and process with me,” MacDonald says.The program is free to families, funded by a grant through Healthy Maine Partnerships. Beaulieu sees four to five families a week, and has a waiting list for more.”It might be a one-on-one for a one-hour session. The family may choose to have repeat visits. I really try to gear it toward what the family needs are,” Beaulieu says.The MacDonalds say while it’s an ongoing process to manage Abigail’s asthma, at least now they have the tools they need for the challenge.The “Open Airways At Home” program is for children up to age eighteen in the greater Bangor area. For more information you can call Elaine Beaulieu at 992-4554.