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American Lung Assoc. awarded $2M grant to fight asthma in Milwaukee, across Midwest

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest is being awarded a $2 million grant from United Health Foundation to launch a new asthma treatment and education program in the Milwaukee area and throughout the Midwest.

In Wisconsin, Milwaukee County has the highest asthma prevalence value for adults and children (10.3 and 10.7 percent of the population). Milwaukee County also experiences the highest county-specific rates of asthma hospitalizations.

"You have indoor air quality issues, you have outdoor air quality issues," said Sarah Brundidge with American Lung Association.

Neighborhoods surrounded by the interstate, industrial businesses and older homes with dirt basements could all trigger asthma.

It is something that is chronic --  it cannot be cured," said Brundidge.

The grant is part of United Health Foundation’s “Helping Build Healthier Communities” program that is providing critical resources to nonprofit, community-based organizations across the country to improve communities’ health and well-being.

"We hope there will be better healthcare for kids in our communities as well as cost savings," said Dustin Hinton the United HealthCare of Wisconsin CEO.

Emergency room visits and the cost of asthma medication and treatment add up fast. The grant money targets low-income families through 15-20 clinics in Milwaukee -- including the Sixteenth Street Community Health Center. Clinic staff say asthma education is key for low-income families who might not be able to afford treatment.

This money is going to help pay for a lot more home visits. Asthma experts are going to be able to go inside a home, identify what is triggering the asthma for a family, and then teach them how to fix it.

"If we can get it controlled, then you`ll be safe," said Brundidge.

The project aims to help reduce the costs of asthma care by:
·      Reducing unnecessary health care utilization
·      Enhancing awareness of asthma treatment and education resources
·      Establishing sustainable capacity of local public health and social service agencies to remove asthma environmental triggers; and
·      Identifying and referring children with poorly managed asthma.

The $2 million grant will be shared by Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, St. Louis and a fifth city to be identified later this year.

For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit