Children's | Featured | Health News | Pulmonology & Respiratory

For more than 25 years, the Pediatric Asthma Program at the Maynard Children’s Hospital at ECU Health Medical Center has worked to help patients and families living with asthma lead healthy lives.

Jeanine Sharpe, social work care manager for the Pediatric Asthma Program, said the goal of the program has always been to decrease emergency department visits, reduce school absences due to asthma, provide education and improve quality of life for patients and families.

“Currently, there are about 5.1 million children under the age of 18 that have asthma in the U.S. and it’s the leading chronic disease for children,” Sharpe said. “Just for our service area last year, we had 1,687 pediatric asthma patient referrals. It’s the number one reason for school absences and the number two reason for hospital admissions for children. But we know that asthma is a controllable disease. What we find is that a lot of times the missing piece is just education.”

Sharpe said the program has touched many families over the years, whether it’s just one interaction or years of working on a family’s case. One family that has seen the impact of the program recently is the Carr family.

Dalton Carr III was diagnosed with asthma three years ago and struggled with wheezing, coughing and attacks in the years since.

Grass leading to a walking bridge in Greenville is decorated with small pinwheels, each one recognizing a pediatric asthma patient seen at Maynard Children's Hospital. Two ECU Health team members stand on the walking path, smiling for the photo.

Dalton III’s mother, Shanika said she was scared when her son was first diagnosed and she wasn’t sure how to handle certain situations. This past December, Dalton had an incident and was seen in the emergency department for his asthma.

“That’s when I met Ms. Sharpe,” Shanika said. “I was confused at the time, but ever since I met Ms. Sharpe, it’s been easier to learn things. I was confused with the things different doctors were telling me and I really didn’t understand how serious it was.”

Dalton III’s father, Dalton Jr., said it has been a great experience working with Sharpe and the Pediatric Asthma Program team.

He said the education and support offered have helped their son be confident and join in the everyday activities of other children his age. While he used to struggle, today he does not wheeze, cough or have flare ups from his asthma. Dalton Jr. credited the work with the Pediatric Asthma Program for this turnaround.

“She got us in a good routine for him. Ever since we’ve gotten Dalton on a consistent routine, he hasn’t had any problems,” Dalton Jr. said. “It’s even to the point where he can tell us when he needs his pump. He might say, ‘Mom or dad, I need my pump’ or ‘I’m good.’ He plays football and he’s running and tackling and it’s a lot but with Ms. Sharpe being in our lives these last few months, it’s just helped a lot.”

Dalton Jr. encouraged families to reach out for help and to learn what might work best for their child’s asthma.

Malorie Whitaker, respiratory care manager at ECU Health Medical Center, said the program is designed to help patients from one to 18 years of age feel more comfortable while they manage their asthma and participate in normal childhood activities.

She also said the program is set up to meet children where they are and eliminate barriers to care.

“Sometimes they’ll come into our office to do different testing or do some education, but usually we meet them,” Whitaker said. “So we’ll get into the homes, we’ll go into the schools, into the clinic, wherever they are. Some of these kids that we see don’t have transportation or transportation is difficult for them, so that’s why we like to go into the school or into the homes to help them.”

To learn more, or to speak with someone close to you, visit the Pediatric Asthma page or call one of the ECU Health locations offering pediatric asthma services.

  • ECU Health Bertie Hospital: 252-833-2861
  • ECU Health Chowan Hospital: 252-833-2861
  • ECU Health Edgecombe Hospital: 252-641-7382
  • ECU Health Medical Center: 252-847-6835
  • ECU Health Roanoke-Chowan Hospital: 252-209-3117