In the midst of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak, borough and state politicians recently held a press conference to discuss solutions to another important Bronx health risk.
On Wednesday, August 12, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, along with Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assemblyman Michael Blake, among other politicians, hosted a press conference at the Children’s Aid Society to discuss the US senator’s fight for new measures to ensure that New York public schools prepare for and prevent asthma attacks in the future.
During the press conference, Gillibrand introduced the School Asthma Management Plan Act, a bill to ensure that schools are equipped to prevent and respond to students’ asthma attacks.
The bill would provide funding for schools to train staff so that they are able to identify these potentially dangerous scenario and properly respond.
Funding would also purchase medication and equipment for schools to improve classroom air quality.
According to the New York State Department of Health, approximately 34,000 children in the state were hospitalized for asthma attacks between 2011-13.
In addition, asthma causes students across the country to miss a total of 10.5 million school days.
In the borough, an estimated 9,320 children were hospitalized between 2011-13 in an area that struggles with one of the highest asthma rates in the country.
Children in schools suffering from asthma attacks can pose as a burden for entire families, as parents are often forced to miss work and travel to accompany their children.
Asthmatic students face challenges such as staying current in classes amidst absences and participating in sport-related activities.
There have also been instances of students falling asleep in class due to having trouble breathing and sleeping the night before.
Gillibrand is now working to ensure that the bill, which was passed by state Senate last month, will be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.
“As asthma rates across New York and the country rise due to pollutants and smog, we have to make sure our schools have the resources to prepare for and prevent asthma attacks,” said Gillibrand, whose son, Theo, suffers from asthma.
“More than 30,000 Bronx children suffer from this chronic disease, so the place where they spend so much of their time, our schools, must be ready. This legislation will make sure our schools have the resources to meet our students’ health needs.”
“The Bronx is grateful to Senator Gillibrand for her ongoing commitment to the health of New Yorkers and to my borough as well as for her School Asthma Management Plan Act,” said Diaz, Jr., whose wife is a chronic asthmatic. “This law will provide students suffering from asthma proper help by improving the communication between their schools and physicians, and will help improve the quality of lives of those suffering, and their families, from asthma.”