Lynn B. Gerald, PhD, MSPH, professor of public health at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and associate director of clinical research at the UA Asthma and Airways Disease Research Center, provided expert testimony before the Arizona House of Representatives Committee on Health on Feb. 2. The subject was a bill that allows schools to use stock inhalers for respiratory distress (HB 2208).
The American Lung Association (ALA) and the Arizona Asthma Coalition are advocating for a bill that will allow schools to have stock albuterol inhalers for students with asthma. The bill, HB 2208, is modeled after SB 1421, Arizona’s EpiPen law, signed into law in 2013, which allows schools to stock and administer epinephrine for emergency use creating a safer environment for all school-aged children, especially those who may not yet know they are allergic.
Dr. Gerald provided testimony on the impact of a school-based stock albuterol program for students with asthma that her research team helped to implement in the Sunnyside Unified School District, the Tucson Unified School District, and the Catholic Dioceses schools of Pima County. Dr. Gerald and colleagues published a report on the program in Sunnyside schools in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.
“The report details our program evaluation which indicated a reduction in 911 calls and EMS transports from pre- to post-policy implementation,” Dr. Gerald said.
Dr. Gerald’s team worked with Doug Taren, PhD, associate dean of academic affairs at the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health and director of the Western Region Public Health Training Center, to create an online free training course for school staff in Tucson. The training is documented and the center maintains a database of those who have taken the course.
“The lack of a training mechanism and a way for schools to document training was a major barrier for the EpiPen legislation. The training we have created can be used by anyone in the state,” said Dr. Gerald.
“While this is just the first step in the process I am excited that our legislators are considering it. If the bill is passed, we will be the 9th state to pass such legislation,” said Dr. Gerald.
On Thursday, Feb. 16, the health committee voted 9-0 to move the bill forward.
As the Canyon Ranch Endowed Chair, Dr. Gerald says the work she has done related to stock inhalers is solely due to the support of the Endowed Chair.
“Without this support, I would not have been able to put so much time and effort into these unfunded programs which have made a huge impact on the health of children with asthma in Tucson.”
Video of Dr. Gerald’s testimony may be viewed here. 03:11:07 (hour:min:sec)