By MERRELL GREGORY
The coordinator of the Mission Health System asthma program, who served 290 EBCI children at the Dora Reed Childcare Center, the Cherokee School System and the Kituwah Academy, has been named the 2011 state recipient of the Asthma Champion Award at the North Carolina Asthma Summit held recently in Raleigh.
She is Melinda Shuler, principal investigator and regional clinical coordinator for the Mission Health System Regional Asthma Disease Management program.
“Asthma is a serious, and sometimes life threatening disease,” Shuler said. “Unfortunately, too many young patients and their families do not know how to effectively manage the illness and use their medications. Working with them as we do can make a tremendous difference in the quality of their life, and sometimes in saving their lives. I am very thankful to have the opportunity to work with the asthmatic children and their families throughout the Western Region. It has been a very humbling and rewarding experience.”
As principal investigator and coordinator for Mission’s asthma program, Shuler works with asthmatics and their families throughout Western North Carolina, from Cherokee to Burke County, case managing more than 80 children in 40 schools. In 2010, she impacted some 3200 children and 270 parents and guardians. Her work includes asthma disease management, grant administration, asthma educational initiatives, environmental assessments in school and child care sites in 12 counties in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Public Health, and providing physician inservice education throughout the region.
Asthma is one of the most common chronic disease in school-aged children and is the leading cause of school absenteeism. In North Carolina 314,700 children have been diagnosed with asthma and one child in 10 is affected by it.
Merrell is the manager of external communications for the Mission Hospital Health System in Asheville.