The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded OCSS a $29,872 grant for addressing indoor air quality. OCSS will work with the Ozarks Public Health Institute (OPHI) and St. John's Health Systems to address indoor air quality (IAQ) issues in the homes of patients suffering from asthma. OCSS staff will work with undergraduate and graduate students from Drury University and Missouri State University to conduct in-home education and IAQ assessments for 9 asthma sufferers located within Greene, Christian, Dallas, Webster and/or Polk counties.
The in-home visits will include education on common IAQ asthma triggers, visual assessments for trouble areas, and sampling of IAQ. Once the home assessments have been completed, patients and their healthcare providers will receive a detailed report of the patient's home IAQ and strategies for reducing IAQ triggers. Participants will then be encouraged to implement changes in the home environment to improve IAQ. OCSS staff and students will then return to the homes of the participants to evaluate improvements in patients' knowledge and asthma condition.
In addition to improving individual asthma management, the grant will also contribute to enhanced asthma management services for southwest Missouri. By providing for the procurement of IAQ testing equipment, the grant will enable OCSS to expand its capacity for offering IAQ assessments to asthma patients throughout the Ozarks region. In addition, the results of the project will allow OCSS to highlight the health and economic benefits derived from increased patient knowledge and control of in-home IAQ. These benefits will aid OCSS in forming partnerships with environmental health programs at area universities, as well as with key health service providers in the southwest Missouri region. In fact, a long-term, self-sustaining program model has been developed to serve as the foundation for these types of partnerships. As a result, this funding will provide OCSS with much needed leverage to begin building a long-term asthma management partnership program.
Given the nature of the project, it should result in the achievement of 3 key environmental results. All of these results relate directly to the EPA's strategic objective of improved IAQ through voluntary actions by public. In particular, these measurable goals will directly contribute to the EPA's sub-objective of having citizens understand and take action on reducing exposure to IAQ asthma triggers. These environmental results are:
The project should serve a vital function in southwest Missouri. Currently, no comprehensive asthma management programs exist in the region, and only one hospital offers any type of asthma resource services. When this is combined with the fact that asthma rates in Missouri remain at or above national averages and lead to over $62 million a year in hospitalization charges, the need for comprehensive asthma management services in southwest Missouri becomes even more apparent. As such, the project will not only fill a much needed service gap, but also contribute to meeting public health goals set by the Missouri Asthma Coalition, with support from the Center for Disease Control and the state of Missouri.