LifeLong rescues asthma sufferers with a little help from its friends

LifeLong rescues asthma sufferers with a little help from its friends
The William Jenkins Health Center is located at 150 Harbour Way in Richmond. (Photo by Kathy Chouteau).

By Kathy Chouteau

LifeLong Medical Care—a nonprofit community health center network—is known for its life altering work in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, including at the William Jenkins Health Center in Richmond.

Amid the closure of San Pablo’s Doctors Medical Center, and the consolidation and shuttering of other hospitals, LifeLong is filling a dearth in local healthcare that particularly impacts low-income residents. Among its array of medical, dental and behavioral health services for multigenerational people—provided regardless of one’s financial or immigration status—is a program that’s helping patients breathe better.

The Asthma Home Visiting Program launched in collaboration with Contra Costa Health Services and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) two years ago during the crux of the pandemic as it looked to address the significant number of people with asthma in our community due to environmental factors.

“Our focus is identifying those who have had urgent care visits; they will be a higher priority,” said LifeLong’s Deputy Director Lucinda Bazile.

Lucinda Bazile/LifeLong

She shared that LifeLong reviews these urgent asthma cases and approaches patients to inquire if they want to receive training and education surrounding the home triggers, which may be making their asthma worse.

Patients participating in the program receive three virtual home visits from LifeLong’s home health promoters. After the home assessments are completed, patients are given a tool kit of supplies to help them minimize their exposures, including items like a protective mattress/pillow covers, an air filter and airtight containers for food storage.

During the program, Chevron Richmond stepped in with funding to free up LifeLong’s respiratory therapist to do more intensive work with certain families who may need more than just the home assessment, said Bazile.

William Jenkins Health Center (Photo by Kathy Chouteau)

Chevron Richmond’s funding is also helping the program tackle other issues in the home such as addressing mold and carpet that needs to be removed. The patients receiving the intensive work are referred following their home assessments, which will reveal if they need more assistance.

Bazile said the program is available throughout West County, however, most of the patients have originated in Richmond and San Pablo.

Bazile also touted an AmeriCorps program at the health center network, which currently has 10 openings and offers a stipend and tuition reimbursement.

“It offers a hands-on opportunity for those who are interested in working in healthcare or furthering their career while providing a benefit to the community,” she said, encouraging applicants.

For more info on LifeLong Medical Care, click here. LifeLong’s William Jenkins Health Center is located at 150 Harbour Way in Richmond. Reach it at (510) 510-981-4100.