A student-led initiative, Asthma Awareness Inspires Relief (AAIR), is volunteering to help community members “take back their air.”
Second-year UCF medical students Sven Eriksson, Morgan Beebe, Jessica Kris and Angela Sterling, along with fourth-year Rhea Ranjit from Florida State University’s College of Medicine are organizing a free asthma screening August 6 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Orlando’s Fashion Square Mall. The event coincides with tax-free, back-to-school shopping.
This is the first time UCF and FSU’s medical schools have collaborated on a project like this. About 50 volunteers are expected to participate.
“The Orlando community has really embraced our medical school. It’s kind of nice to be able to give back,” said Sterling.
Asthma screenings typically take about 15 minutes and test how well the lungs are functioning through a breathing test. Guidelines are being provided by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
An estimated 26 million Americans have asthma, according to a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the Orlando area, symptoms are especially prevalent.
“Our rates of asthma are three times higher than the national average. It’s very important as upcoming medical students who are serving the Orlando community to address this issue, not only for our growth and development, but for the growth and development of the community as a whole,” said Beebe.
In addition to conducting screenings, students will provide access to resources for patients who might not have insurance, correct misconceptions about asthma and connect those suffering from the respiratory disease with allergists for long-term care.
“The health of the community should improve based on what we’re doing,” Eriksson said. “We’re laying the groundwork to make that kind of change happen.”
Students hope that they can help raise awareness of asthma in both adults and children, dispel misconceptions and help inform patients about treatments. “It’s really important to provide the community with a source of education that isn’t ‘Doctor Google,’” said Kris. “People may have no exposure to asthma, or their exposure to asthma maybe somewhat biased, or they’re not sure what to think of it. They have an outlet now to get a better understanding of the disease.”
For more information about the screening, call the hotline at (321) 236-2247 (AAIR).
Photo (L to R): Jessica Kris, Angela Sterling, Sven Eriksson, Morgan Beebe. Not pictured: Rhea Ranjit.