- Is my
Family at Risk?
- What is a Green
& Healthy Home?
- Home Health
- Get Help
- Get Involved
- Contact Us
September 9, 2015
Asthma is one of the most common and serious diseases affecting children. In the United States, 7.1 million, or one in every ten children, have asthma and 4.1 million experienced an attack or episode in 2011. Continuing its efforts to raise awareness about the impact of childhood asthma on school attendance, the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) is partnering with Attendance Works during national Attendance Awareness Month.
This event occurs each September and recognizes the connection between school attendance and academic achievement. When students miss 10 percent or more of school days, they are chronically absent. Estimates indicate 5 million to 7.5 million students in the nation are at academic risk because of their continuing absence. Absences may be excused or unexcused, but both negatively impact academic success. Chronic illnesses, such as asthma, can make the number of missed school days number skyrocket.
Taking steps to control your child’s asthma now is one of the easiest ways to help your child’s academic success. While asthma cannot be cured, knowing its symptoms and how to prevent attacks will improve life for asthmatics and their family members.
Know the signs and symptoms
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung condition where the airways become blocked or narrowed. It presents as shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, wheezing and coughing. If symptoms are severe enough, your child may require medical attention to help restore normal breathing.
Identify and limit triggers in your home
Asthma can be triggered by mold, pests, dust mites, pet hair and dander, tobacco smoke and cleaning chemicals, all of which are present in homes and are responsible for 40 percent of all asthma attacks. These triggers release allergens into the air and cause an attack when breathed into asthmatic lungs.
The first step towards managing asthma is to reduce the likelihood of triggering an attack. Keep damp areas like bathrooms and basements clean, dry and well-ventilated to prevent mold growth. Do not smoke in your home. Vacuum often with a HEPA vacuum to reduce the buildup of dust mites, pet hair and dander. Ensure your home meets all eight elements of a green and healthy home to help prevent asthma attacks at home and keep your children healthy and ready to learn.
In December 2014, GHHI published a study of its work in the Environmental Justice that demonstrated the effectiveness of its evidenced-based interventions in improving childhood asthma symptoms. In May, the Environmental Protection Agency awarded the GHHI Baltimore program the National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management. By addressing asthma triggers in the homes of children with chronic asthma, we have been able to reduce asthma related hospitalizations by more than 65% and emergency department visits by 28%. This study showed a 62% increase in participants reporting asthma-related perfect attendance for their child (i.e. zero school absences due to asthma episodes) as well as an 88% increase in parents never having to miss a day of work to care for a sick child with asthma.
Create an asthma action plan
Reducing exposure to asthma triggers will lessen the chance for an asthma attack, but there is always the potential of unexpectedly encountering a trigger outside the home. Pollen, strong fumes or odors and cold or dry weather can all trigger an attack. Having a plan for when your child encounters these triggers is vital. Establish an Asthma Action Plan with your child’s doctor before your child goes back to school. This document outlines your child’s triggers, the severity of their asthma, what medication to take and how often. It should be shared with your child’s school administration and nurse in case of an attack during school hours.
Many of these triggers may be encountered at school. If you have concerns about potential triggers in your child’s school or classroom, use the American Lung Association toolkit as a guide when reviewing school policies and talking to administrators. Parents can advocate for school policies that create healthy environments for learning: proper storage of food, prompt cleanup of spills and trash and the establishment of a smoke-free campus.
We invite you to help us spread awareness about the connection between asthma and school attendance before, during, and after Attendance Awareness Month. Sporadic and consecutive absenteeism are issues that must be addressed year round. Taking steps now to reduce absence due to asthma attacks will ensure your child’s success in school and your success in the workplace.
July 30, 2015
There is an undeniable need to take meaningful action to combat climate change. To date, there are no federal limits on how much carbon pollution existing power plants can dump into the air. Carbon pollution causes climate change and a host of extreme threats to public health.
This is why the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s Clean Power Plan, which is days away from finalization, is so vital. It sets the first ever federal limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants, invests in clean, renewable energy and boosts cost-saving energy efficiency. EPA's plan would prevent thousands of asthma attacks, deaths, heart attacks and general hospital admissions every year.
Making buildings more energy efficient is the least expensive way to meet pollution reduction targets under the new standards. Efficiency investments in housing not only produce substantial energy savings but lead to better health and more disposable income for residents, and create jobs for local communities. Energy efficiency is one of the eight elements of a healthy home.
The plan is estimated to provide up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits. The EPA projects that the new standards could help avoid up to 6,600 premature deaths and up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children annually by 2030. It will also help prevent thousands of heart attacks, hospital admissions, and missed work and school days every year.
Climate change is not a future generation's problem. It affects our communities and our health each and every day, and we need to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the EPA to solve it. We urge congress to make the call for climate change now.
To show your support for investments in energy efficiency, sign on to ramp up resources for energy efficiency in affordable multifamily housing.
July 15, 2015
Salt Lake City is buzzing with excitement over Pay for Success (PFS). The GHHI PFS team traveled to Salt Lake City on June 26 to kick off its asthma-focused PFS feasibility study and was met with a crowded room of interested community leaders. GHHI team members present were President & CEO Ruth Ann Norton, Vice President of Policy and Social Innovation Michael McKnight, Social Innovation Specialist Trent Van Alfen, Senior Associate for Research, Policy and Environmental Health Science Brendan Brown and Pay for Success Project Lead Eric Letsinger. GHHI is also conducting groundbreaking feasibility studies in four other cities with funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Social Innovation Fund.
Over the course of the next year, GHHI will work with awardees in the five cities to assess the feasibility of a PFS partnership involving home-based interventions to reduce asthma in low income communities and generate cost savings for healthcare organizations. By June 2016, GHHI will complete an analysis for project partners and investors to use in determining if they want to move forward with a PFS transaction similar to the one GHHI is developing in Baltimore.
The purpose of this kick off meeting in Salt Lake City was to establish a common understanding of the PFS feasibility study among all the project stakeholders—healthcare organizations, service providers, as well as government and university departments. The convening allowed everyone to get on the same page regarding roles, responsibilities, goals and potential resources for the project. The quality of discussion and amount of business cards being passed back and forth were good indications that the Salt Lake partners were taking ownership of the project, making connections and striving to make it successful. By the end of July, GHHI will have conducted similar kick off meetings with the other four PFS awardee cities.
University of Utah Health Plans and the Salt Lake County Office of Regional Development are the two PFS feasibility awardees in Salt Lake City. They brought in several professionals and organizations for the site visit who may potentially become involved in the project, including representatives from Green & Healthy Homes Initiative Salt Lake, University of Utah Department of Pediatrics, Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity, Salt Lake County Health Department, Utah’s Pediatric Improvement Partnership (UPIQ), the Policy Innovation Lab at the University of Utah and the Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office.
It seemed to be perfect timing for this asthma-focused PFS feasibility study. The county’s Health Department recently received a grant to provide home- and school-based asthma education; UPIQ is developing its leadership in quality improvement for clinical asthma management; and University of Utah’s Department of Pediatrics is conducting studies fostering empirical evidence for the ability of home-based interventions to reduce asthma triggers. Representatives from all of these initiatives expressed that they would like to be involved with GHHI’s PFS work whether as direct partners in service provision or as resources in knowledge sharing throughout the project. Multiple people throughout the day said they were “so pumped up!” about this project and the feeling was contagious.
Utah is one of the leading states in Pay for Success—in large part due to the attention Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams has given to the field. Mayor McAdams joined us for lunch on June 26 and offered several great insights. His office is currently conducting three PFS projects focused on maternal/child health, criminal justice and homelessness. Another one of the Social Innovation Fund PFS grant awardees, the Policy Innovation Lab, is located in Utah and is also conducting several PFS feasibility studies out west. A representative from the Lab discussed their work to the group and expressed their willingness to collaborate and share knowledge with GHHI as they both seek to advance the PFS field nationally.
One of the major highlights of the day was when GHHI President & CEO Ruth Ann Norton presented Mayor McAdams with a GHHI pin and thanked him for his support. The Mayor touted the outstanding reputation and track record of GHHI and discussed the enormous potential Pay for Success represents for improving social outcomes. He joined everyone else in saying that he was “pumped up!”
June 8, 2015
This week I am delighted to be attending CGI America 2015 in Denver, Colorado, along with our outstanding mission partners from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
Collectively, we recognize that healthy homes have a profound effect in ensuring that kids are safe, healthy and ready to learn. The components of academic achievement, such as attendance and performance outcomes, is related to interactions among multiple biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors:[i]
A systematic review conducted by the Children's Health Fund shows that risk factors such as childhood asthma and lead poisoning, especially during the crucial developmental period of early childhood, are significantly contributing to poor academic achievement. Unhealthy housing can lead to learning disabilities, decreased intelligence, speech development problems, hyperactivity and asthma, which is the number one medical reason for school absences. In 2008, asthma attacks led to an estimated 14.4 million lost school days (7.1 million children have asthma)[ii]. Home-based asthma triggers cause 40% of asthma episodes, which are entirely preventable[iii]. These triggers include mold, pests, dust mites, poor indoor air quality, cockroaches and tobacco smoke.
I sincerely look forward to furthering the dialog with our partners at HUD and CGI around housing as a platform for health and educational outcomes. Part of the conversation this week will include the exploration of pathways to expand healthy homes interventions through healthcare and social impact financing, which is critical to effectively scaling the impact of this work in communities across the nation.
I will provide updates and observations throughout the week via Twitter @RuthAnnNorton, and of course there will a rich conversation occurring at the official meeting hashtag #CGIAmerica. I hope all of our partners in healthy homes, education and healthcare will get a chance to tune in and engage at some point throughout the week!
[i] Roy Grant and Arturo Brito. Chronic Illness and School Performance: A Literature Review Focusing on Asthma and Mental Health Conditions. Children's Health Fud, New York, NY: June, 2010
[ii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey Raw Data, 2011. Analysis by the American Lung Association Research and Health Education Division using SPSS and SUDAAN software.
[iii] Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build A Healthier America. Beyond Health Care: New Directions To A Healthier America Report. April 2009
June 3, 2015
The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) is pleased to release Sustainable Funding and Business Case for GHHI Home Interventions for Asthma Patients — a publication assessing ways in which effective, comprehensive home interventions can be integrated with the healthcare system payment structure. This represents the first in a series of GHHI papers that will address new pathways for sustainable funding in alignment with the healthcare system.
With generous support from the Osprey Foundation and the JPB Foundation, GHHI commissioned and partnered with Health Management Associates (HMA) in the preparation of this paper. GHHI asked HMA to explore medical payment models and other funding streams related to health based housing. HMA consultants are foremost experts in the fields of health and human services policy, healthy economics and finance, program evaluation, data analysis and health system restructuring.
Our goal in producing this work is to advance the dialog around housing as a platform for health, and to begin suggesting viable action steps for policy makers and healthcare industry leaders. GHHI delivers evidenced-based interventions to families and has achieved significant results. A peer-reviewed study published in the Environmental Justice journal of the GHHI program in Maryland showed a 66% reduction in hospitalizations and a 28% reduction in emergency room visits for asthmatics. With health care reform and innovation efforts currently taking place—aimed at delivering better care, producing a healthier population, and reducing healthcare costs—there is a unique window now to bring more health care investment to the activities of GHHI and similar healthy homes programs. This report identifies sustainable health-related funding streams for asthma-related home interventions, looks at payment structures and examines the business case for healthcare payers to fund these services.
Download the report.