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Asthma Health Outcomes Project

Overviews of Surveyed Asthma ProgramsSeptember 2005

Domestic Programs: New York (cont’d)Back to Index

HCZAI: The Harlem Children's Zone Asthma Initiative

Columbia University Harlem Hospital Center

New York, NY

Benjamin Ortiz, Jr., MD

(212) 939-1909         

Bo77@columbia.edu OR Benmd@att.net


The Harlem Children's Zone Asthma Initiative (HCZAI) was established in 2001 to reduce asthma-related morbidity through improved surveillance, health-care use, and health-care service delivery for children aged 0-12 years living in a 60-block radius of Central Harlem known as the Harlem Children's Zone Project (www.hcz.org). HCZAI is managed by Columbia University- Harlem Hospital Center and is mainly supported by funding from a private foundation.

Potential participants are identified through a health screening of all children aged <12 years who live or attend school in the Harlem Children's Zone Project or participate in any Harlem Children's Zone, Inc., program. As part of HCZAI, a pediatric asthma team (including four community workers, a social worker, a nurse, and three physicians) offers medical, educational, environmental, social, and legal services to families of enrolled children via an individualized, home-based, comprehensive asthma intervention.

HCZAI community outreach workers from Harlem Hospital Center conduct comprehensive home visits. The initial home visit includes an assessment existing primary care and asthma medication use, a visual environmental trigger assessment, and asthma education. HCZAI provides free PFM, spacers, and asthma trigger control materials as needed. Follow-up home visits are conducted every 3-4 months and include a brief health outcomes survey, another environmental inspection, and continued asthma education as needed. The outreach workers also arrange for social or legal services as needed. After each home visit, a letter summarizing the content of the visit is mailed to the child's health care provider. Other activities include education of school and daycare personnel by a physician and nurse team. This team also works to ensure that schools have procedures in place so that students with asthma can receive necessary medications at school. HCZAI has also collaborated with the EPA to implement its IAQ Tools for Schools program and enact policy changes.

The HCZ Asthma Initiative seeks to improve day-to-day health, reduce school absenteeism, emergency room visits and asthma-related hospitalizations. As of 2004, program evaluation had indicated a significant impact on several health outcomes. HCZAI continues to enroll participants and complete follow-up evaluations.

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