From left to right: Jennifer and Rachel Clune
Marilyn Clune (Rachel and Jennifer's mother): I have twin daughters, Rachel and Jennifer. They both play soccer and take ballet classes. They are entering the third grade at GlenArden Wood Elementary School. They turned eight this September (2004).
Rachel was worn out when she played sports and she couldn't keep going like the other girls. She'd complain about being tired and not being able to catch her breath.
And Jennifer had seasonal allergies. She would get hives when she went in the grass, and she complained of itchiness.
There were flyers at the girls' school about the Breathmobile. They came in May 2004, and I signed up both girls to be checked. The school nurse had already been in contact with Breathmobile staff about making appointments for my kids.
We got an appointment at the end of the school day and visited the Breathmobile after school. While we were signing in, the nurse started evaluating each girl while I was giving their medical histories to the nurse practicioner.
They explained each step/tests the girls were going to go through -- the peak flow meter, which measures breathing output, and the spirometer, which measures the effectiveness of the lungs through the entire breath, how well the lungs exhale. Then, they performed a scratch test to check for environmental allergies like pollens and molds.
That's how we discovered Rachel had mild asthma. Rachel was then put on asthma medication (an inhaler with a spacer). That has helped her so much; it's made a big difference. She doesn't get tired out and she keeps up with everyone when she's playing sports. In fact, she and her sister just attended a two-week ballet camp.
With Jennifer, they found out she didn't have asthma but she had some environmental allergies. They determined this from the scratch tests. She had allergies to certain pollens and molds so we contacted her pediatrician at a later date about a prescription for Allegra so hives and a stuffy nose wouldn't bother her. She also has a rescue inhaler to open her airways in case of emergency, but she's never had to use it.
We do follow-up with either the doctors or the nurse practitioner at the Breathmobile. The nurse practitioner examines them and makes sure the information goes to the primary care provider for each child. It's so convenient because the Breathmobile comes by the school every month. Depending how the girls are doing, we follow-up every month to two months.
The Breathmobile is a wonderful service. I think it's terrific. We are one of the lucky families who have health insurance, but there are children whose parents are not able to afford it otherwise, so this is a valuable service.
The Breathmobile staff interacts very well with the kids. They are fully outfitted and well equipped. They had a lot of support material for both the girls and me. They have information for kids, such as booklets to read and games to play. The booklets help the children learn about inhalers, medications and warning signs. They have special equipment that they give out, such as inhalers and mouthpieces, which are designed for children. Everything is geared towards the children. It's a comfortable environment, not scary, and that's very nice.
Just the fact that they're doing the screening so you can rule out asthma, allergies or to find out how your children are is wonderful. The screening has been great; it's piece of mind.