New push to help schools treat students who suffer from asthma

NEW YORK (WABC) -- With the new school year on the horizon, there is a push to help all students with asthma get the care they need.

The initiative was discussed Wednesday in the Bronx, where childhood rates of asthma are above average.

Some 36,000 children in the Bronx suffer from asthma. And when they go back to school, where they spend a good part of their day, parents like Alana Silva want to make sure their son Joel and daughter Briana are well cared for in the event of an asthma attack.

"They have a plan in place. It tells you step by step what to do, it's fine," said Alana.

But at Briana's school Alana says, "They don't have a step by step plan. It's, you have to tell me you have asthma. When you have asthma I'll send you over the school nurse and let's see what happens."

Now Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, is pushing for new federal measures to ensure that schools are prepared and can even prevent asthma attacks.

"We need schools to be prepared and ready so that kids don't have to keep missing school, and that families can have peace of mind that their schools can properly respond to an asthma attack," said Sen. Gillibrand.

The legislation allows schools to use federal grant money to develop and implement school asthma management plans, purchase asthma medication and devices, and improve communication and coordination between schools and physicians.

"This bill gives priority to low income schools which have a disproportionate share of asthma cases," said Sen. Gillibrand.

Bronx leaders, who have struggled with asthma, strongly support the measure.

"In our efforts to make the Bronx healthier, this is just one of the tools that we may be able to use," said State Sen. Gustavo Rivera.

Educators and health officials who also joined in this show of support believe: "This is the first time I've been standing next to a senator who has come into our community to really look at a medical issue that should have been dealt with 10 to 12 years ago," said principal Patricia Quigley.

Alana Silva and many parents are hoping this measure of asthma relief will be approved.

"You want to know that your child is being taken care of," said Alana Silva.

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