KENNETT, MO (KAIT) - Dunklin County had the highest average rate of asthma hospitalizations for children under the age of 15 from 2001-2005, according to the Missouri Department of Health.
Kennett Public Schools (KPS) administrators have worked to lower the statistic by modifying its asthma management program. As a result, the Missouri Foundation for Health awarded KPS a nearly $3 million grant, and the CDC is evaluating whether to use the program as a national model.
Kennett Middle School sixth grader Hannah Mowrer was diagnosed with asthma in preschool. "Sometimes it's really bad and sometimes I don't have trouble at all."
The Childhood Asthma Linkages in Missouri (CALM) grant enables the school district purchase asthma equipment, hire full-time asthma educators and provide asthma training for faculty, coaches and parents. "The grant has also provided us with an opportunity to work with the physicians in our area and our local hospital," said Kennett High School nurse Jennifer Hicks.
Mowrer said the school nurses and an in-school asthma management support group she participated in last year have aided her in keeping her asthma under control. "She told me exactly how to take my inhaler, and helped me know how to use it the right way so that I could get the medicine the best way."
Hannah's 14-year-old sister also has asthma. "(The school nurses) know what questions to ask us, for us to ask ourselves and help both of the kids with their issues," said Mowrer's dad William.
The CALM grant awarded Kennett Public Schools $575,000 over five years. The CDC chose to evaluate the asthma management program for KPS over school districts in Madison, WI and Los Angeles, CA.