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Asthma is the leading cause of school absences and hospitalizations nationwide, especially in New York City, the National Center for Health Statistics reported in 2003. The disease, common among 5- to 14-year-olds, prevents children from participating in sports, causes inattentiveness and, in some situations, death. Unfortunately for kids from lower-income families, specialized treatment is expensive and often not a possibility.
The economic effects of asthma are widespread. For every day a child is absent, the school loses federal funding. Parents lose wages when they are home with sick children, and employers lose the work that could have been completed by the parent. Taxpayers often pay the emergency room and hospitalization bill.
With several employees’ children suffering from asthma, senior staff at Fleishman-Hillard (FH) wanted to learn more. After meeting with leading pediatric asthma and allergy specialists, FH realized there was a deep divide in asthma care among different economic classes.
FH decided to address this problem by creating Project E.R.A.S.E, which stands for: Eradicating Respiratory Asthma in Schools to help children Excel. Teaming with New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, FH sent specialists at no cost to the families, schools or city into two inner-city schools to provide diagnosis, and advice on treatment and management of asthma and allergies.