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AmeriHealth Caritas Sees High Turnout for a Special Asthma Awareness Event Tailored to Latino Families

Puerto Ricans suffer the highest incidence of asthma, at more than double the rate of non-Hispanic whites

Harrisburg, Pa. AmeriHealth Caritas Pennsylvania, a Medical Assistance (Medicaid) managed care plan serving Central and Northwestern Pennsylvania and part of the AmeriHealth Caritas Family of Companies, organized a special health education event in Allentown to inform and educate families about asthma and strategies to manage the respiratory illness.

The American Lung Association hosted Asthma Awareness Night on April 30 at South Mountain Middle School for students, their parents and caregivers. The event informed parents and caregivers about the basics of asthma, including warning signs, symptoms, medication use, and how to eliminate asthma triggers at home. AmeriHealth Caritas Partnership, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting health equity, sponsored the event which featured presentations from Dr. Kimberly Brown of The Children’s Clinic at Lehigh Valley Health Network and John Keith, the American Lung Association’s director of health promotions.

“In the U.S., asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalizations among children under 15. For parents of the 6.2 million children in the U.S. with asthma, it’s crucial to have a plan to manage their child’s asthma,” Keith said. “Just a few steps can make a significant difference, like having an asthma check-up with the child’s doctor, ensuring the child’s school has an updated Asthma Action Plan, and getting a flu shot.”

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommends that everyone with asthma have an Asthma Action Plan (or management plan) in writing. The plan provides information and instructions on how to manage asthma and to reduce or prevent flare-ups and emergency department visits.

Asthma is a serious chronic lung disease that affects nearly 25 million people in the United States. Although asthma affects people across many demographics, it occurs at disproportionately higher rates among Latinos. Latino children are 40 percent more likely to die from asthma than non-Latino whites. Nearly 10 percent of Latino children under the age of 18 suffer from this chronic respiratory illness.

“We need to raise awareness and empower Latino families in Allentown with the knowledge that will enable them to manage this life-threatening disease,” said AmeriHealth Caritas Pennsylvania Market President Marge Angello. “Our community health navigators are committed to doing home visits to help families identify, avoid and remove triggers to limit asthma attacks. Controlling asthma symptoms is not just a health issue for individuals, it’s a quality of life issue for them and their families.”

Nearly half of Allentown’s 120,000 residents are Puerto Rican, the city’s largest ethnic group. The Puerto Rican population in the city has recently grown as many have relocated to the Lehigh Valley from the island territory as it continues to struggle to recover from the devastation from Hurricane Maria, which hit the island in September 2017.

More than 70 percent of the students at Allentown’s South Mountain Middle School, located at 709 W. Emaus Avenue, are Latino.

About AmeriHealth Caritas Pennsylvania

AmeriHealth Caritas Pennsylvania is a Medical Assistance (Medicaid) managed care health plan serving 26 counties in Central and Northwestern Pennsylvania. Headquartered in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, AmeriHealth Caritas Pennsylvania is a mission-driven company dedicated to helping members get care, stay well and build healthy communities. For more information, visit www.amerihealthcaritaspa.com.

About AmeriHealth Caritas

AmeriHealth Caritas is one of the nation’s leaders in health care solutions for those most in need. Operating in 11 states and the District of Columbia, AmeriHealth Caritas serves more than 5 million Medicaid, Medicare, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) members through its integrated managed care products, pharmaceutical benefit management and specialty pharmacy services, and behavioral health services.

Headquartered in Philadelphia, AmeriHealth Caritas is a mission-driven organization with more than 35 years of experience serving low-income and chronically ill populations. AmeriHealth Caritas is part of the Independence Health Group in partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. For more information, visit www.amerihealthcaritas.com.