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Wee Wheezers Asthma Education Program

Implemented in Darnell Army Community Hospital, Ft. Hood, Texas by MAS Consultants Inc., P.O. Box 5130 Aiken, South Carolina 29804.

Wee Wheezers: Lessons Learned

The DACH-Air staff involved with Wee Wheezers at Ft. Hood identified several key lessons from their involvement in the program.

Use of the Asthma Process Action Team (APAT).

The APAT was a performance improvement initiative undertaken in 1998 involving management and staff from numerous hospital units. These people met regularly to work through issues and develop actions to launch the asthma information and resources program. The performance improvement approach, founded on a commitment to excellence, facilitated the needed buy-in from the leadership, including pediatrics, family practice, emergency medicine, pharmacy, pulmonary medicine, and resource management. This effort was an essential prerequisite to making the sweeping changes needed to establish an asthma care program that would provide consistent, comprehensive care system-wide at the base. The APAT, with senior military staff support, acquired a partnership with Health Net, secured initial funding, created and implemented pathway forms and processes, and selected an asthma education program in order to place the asthma-care program on a solid foundation. In 2001, DACH-Air was selected to present its innovative performance improvement program to the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Hospital Organizations survey team.

Teamwork and cooperation.

A genuine enthusiasm exists for the work with a characteristic feature of "One Team!" Staff members learned that input from everyone involved is important and that every task associated with asthma care and education is valuable. Support from the numerous hospital chiefs and their staffs are essential to the success of the asthma education program.

Hiring an elementary school teacher to facilitate the children’s sessions of Wee Wheezers.

Getting children into a social framework in which they can best learn new information and skills requires a special understanding of child learning psychology and the willingness to work with children at their level. The introduction of a master children’s course facilitator and use of the multi-station, round robin format with three or four children per group created a learning environment in which children flourish, have fun, and learn at a recognizably more rapid pace.

Keeping the classes small.

Wee Wheezers instructors and staff attempt to keep children’s classes to fewer than 20 students. Even with team-teaching, more individualized attention ensures that each child understands the information. The parent classes are comparably limited, which supports the small-group dynamics that promotes discussion and sharing of information.

Involving the schools to raise asthma program awareness.

The DACH-Air coordinator took the asthma program to the school children by involving the local elementary schools in a contest to provide a name for the asthma program logo. This activity got the children and the teachers talking about asthma and made them aware of the program. The activity also involved the school nurses resulting in several calls about asthma action plans, symptoms, and triggers.

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