The number of kids visiting the hospital citywide for asthma attacks is going down, but it's dropping especially fast in one community. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
It's been more than a year since Ayliphelet Ramirez has had to rush one of her two daughters to an emergency room for an asthma attack.
"My first response was, I was on the phone with my dad. 'Dad! Izayli can't breathe,'" Ramirez says. "He would rush me to the ER. She was missing so many days of school."
It's a common story throughout the city, especially in Harlem and the Bronx, where asthma rates are among the highest.
After being referred to the East Harlem Asthma Center of Excellence, Ramirez realized that she didn't need to go to the hospital.
"I'm very well-stocked at home. I have medication and their nebulizer machines, and I have their spacers," she says. "Also, they have the asthma action plan at school as well."
The number of kids visiting the hospital for asthma is starting to go down, especially in East and Central Harlem, communities that the Asthma Center has served since 2007.
"We've had a bigger reduction, about 37 percent, of hospitalizations for kids. Other areas, not nearly as much," says Roger Hayes, assistant health commissioner for the East/Central Harlem District Public Health Office. "The hospitals are very much involved in this, the medical providers, the schools, so it's been a big effort throughout the neighborhood."
From 2000 to 2010, there was a 23 percent decrease citywide in hospitalizations, including 20 percent in Brooklyn and only 5.5 percent in the South Bronx.
Hayes says that many parents need help coordinating asthma care.
"Make sure the diagnosis is good, make sure the medications are good, and really trying to get into the homes," he says.
The Ramirez family was paired with asthma counselor Priscilla Liriano.
"Like a lot of parents, I was very ignorant about asthma and triggers," Ramirez says. "She was really good with pointing out things in my house that needed to get worked on."
Liriano also helped connect Ramirez to an asthma specialist and works with her girls.
"I'm allergic to all animals that have fur, and I'm allergic to mold and cockroaches," says Izayli Ramirez, an asthma patient.
While asthma hospitalization have been steadily decreasing, it's a different story when it comes to asthma prevalence, or the number of children who are living with asthma.
"It's actually going up," Hayes says. "Control's better, prevalence is up."
As researchers focus on why that is, Hayes says that the city aims to step up asthma intervention.