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Asthma Program Brings Down Student Emergencies In Wake County

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A new program in Wake County is helping students with asthma breathe easier.

Many students miss school because of asthma. Doctors estimate that one out of every six pediatric emergency room visits are due to asthma.

Christina Gray, 10, is one of more than 3,000 Wake County students with asthma.

"I have tightness in my chest. I have problems breathing," said Gray.

"She was missing a lot of school. We would have to take her to the doctor," said Deborah Gray, Christina's mother.

The Pediatric Asthma Program at


is a free 12-month program for children ages 5 to 17 that have asthma.

"There were 1,400 school days missed last year because of asthma-related issues," said Leah Vaughan, program facilitator and registered nurse.

Respiratory therapists and nurses help students recognize asthma attack triggers and proper medication use. They also learn how to use peak flow meters to measure airflow.

Students with asthma are also closely monitored at school. Wake County school nurse Susan Kroupa has a care plan for every student. She also trains the staff to assist when she is at another school.

"They know how to read the peak flow meters like I do. They know how to observe the child and encourage them to use it the proper way," said Kroupa.

The program started in 1999 and is credited for reducing the number of asthma emergencies among Wake County students.

Christina Gray said she has not been absent from school this year because of her asthma. Her mother says she cannot believe it.

"I was blown away. It's just a great improvement for her. It really is," said Deborah Gray.

For more information about the Pediatric Asthma Program, call (919) 350-6895.


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