New Law Provides Students Access to Life-Saving Medications at School

May 18, 2015

As a parent to a child with asthma, ensuring they have access to their asthma medication is a constant priority.

With the help of two Georgians who happen to be asthma experts, parents and caregivers can rest assured that their children will have access to asthma medications while at school in the event of an emergency.

Dr. Tracy Bridges and Jon Ramsey, both employees at the Allergy and Asthma Clinic of Georgia in Albany, worked together to craft State Bill 126. This bill authorizes schools to stock levalbuterol or albuterol and provides immunity for trained staff to administer the life-saving medication to a student believed to be experiencing respiratory distress, regardless of whether the student has a prescription.

Recently, Gov. Nathan Deal signed the bill into law at the start of Asthma Awareness Month this May.

The law is not only a relief for parents or caregivers whose children need asthma medication at school, it is also an achievement the Georgia Department of Public Health’s (DPH) Asthma Control Program is happy to celebrate.

“Monitoring the health of children with asthma is an around-the-clock job and shouldn’t end when they are away from their parents or caregivers during the school day,” said Bridgette Massey Blowe, MPH, program coordinator, Georgia Asthma Control Program, DPH Chronic Disease Prevention Section. “Signing State Bill 126 into law is a major milestone in our efforts to ease the long-term burdens of asthma. This new law ensures that all children – with or without asthma medication prescriptions – are protected every day and have the best opportunities to attain positive health outcomes when faced with an asthma attack or respiratory distress.”

Participating in and supporting efforts such as the new asthma law is just one example of how the Asthma Control Program is looking to better understand and manage asthma as a chronic disease.

As part of a multi-year study being conducted by the Prevention Research Center at Washington University in St. Louis, the Chronic Disease Prevention Section recently attended a four-day training to learn how continued promotion of evidence-based programs and policies help to prevent chronic disease.

Information gained during opportunities such as these are used to further the work DPH’s existing Chronic Disease Prevention section efforts, particularly the Asthma Control Program.

“We are already utilizing this information with a new pediatric asthma mortality reporting proposed rule that is currently under the review and public comment process,” said Blowe. “This new rule will enhance our program’s ability to quickly respond to morbidity cases in a way that is informative and actionable in public health and health care settings.”

Other DPH programs are also utilizing the information gained during this training course, such as the Sexual Assault Prevention program, which is increasing its focus on coalition-building and grassroots community efforts to advance sexual assault prevention efforts in Georgia. 

To learn more about the Asthma Control Program and asthma resources available to children and adults in Georgia, visit www.dph.georgia.gov/georgia-asthma-control-program

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