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Community Highlights: Integrated Delivery Network

Because of the prevalence of asthma in Allegheny County in Pennsylvania, Allegheny Health Network is partnering with the Heinz Endowments to focus on solutions.

Network partners to address high rates of asthma

In 2012, a Pennsylvania Department of Health report ranked Allegheny County sixth among Pennsylvania's 67 counties in emergency-room visits caused by asthma, with 21 visits per 10,000 residents. In the 2008-09 school year, more than 12 percent of Allegheny County students had been diagnosed with asthma. Determined to identify environmental risk factors for asthma and develop policies to prevent the disease, Allegheny Health Network developed a partnership with the Heinz Endowments to study the issue.

As a result of the partnership, the Heinz Endowments annually provides support for a community conference with Allegheny Health Network that brings international experts to Pittsburgh to focus on the impact of air pollution on health. In January of 2014, Dr. Deborah Gentile, M.D., director of research in the Division of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology at AHN’s Allegheny General Hospital, received a major grant from the Endowments to research the rates of asthma specifically among Pittsburgh children. This first-ever asthma prevalence study is tracking fifth-grade students from local elementary schools. Using questionnaires and breathing tests, researchers examined the children for symptoms of asthma. The goal is to identify environmental risk factors and to develop policies to prevent the disease. The results of this study will be published in 2015.