Jennifer Whitney explains how poverty, lack of education and access to medical care stop Asthma patients from receiving proper treatment.
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Female Speaker: Seeing a doctor and controlling asthma prevents emergency room visits and hospitalizations, that's the goal. But access to healthcare is sometimes a barrier. Glennah Trochet: In this country, we've learnt that health is really related to wealth. And the wealthier you are, actually the healthier you are, and the more likely you're to have a longer lifespan. Female Speaker: Sacramento County Health Officer Dr. Glennah Trochet says there's no question poverty and asthma are linked. Glennah Trochet: Children in minority groups who tend to be in poverty more often tend to have higher incidents of asthma and unfortunately also a higher incidents of emergency room visits and hospitalizations for asthma. Female Speaker: Anna Cornelius is barely getting by financially. Anna Cornelius: I have a job that pays only for room and board, Transitional Living, I'm a Program Director there but it's only room and board. Female Speaker: Anna does not have health insurance but she does have children. Anna Cornelius: Twins, I have twins Serenity and Destiny and they're five years old. They both have asthma. Female Speaker: The girls are being raised by their mom and grandmother Ruby. Ruby Thornton: It's hard for Destiny sometimes she get sick to breathe, she is going like weird, like a sound auh, and this time she didn't do it though, she had a bad fever. But one time she had it so bad, I drove to the hospital. I just had a nickel, I just, I didn't think she's going to make it but I just kept driving. Glennah Trochet: African-American children, their rate of hospitalization is 250% higher so that's 2.5 times higher than that of other children. And their death rate from asthma is 500% higher. And these are statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Office of Minority Health. Female Speaker: Poverty, lack of education and poor access to healthcare are a big part of the problem. Anna Cornelius: Now I'm lot -- better educated as to the things to asthma that can help prevent asthma attacks. Educate me, yeah educate me. Female Speaker: That's exactly what Azizza Davis Goines is trying to do, she heads up the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce. Azizza Davis Goines: There is such a disparity in healthcare. You'll find that these children that are suffering with asthma are living in deplorable conditions. There is mold in the houses, there's smoking in the houses, there's particles in the air, horrible carpeting. Glennah Trochet: Homes tend to have triggers such as dust mites and this is no reflection on housekeeping practices. If you live in an urban area, your home is going to have those mites, it's also going to have cockroaches. And these are definite environmental triggers for susceptible people for asthma and asthma attacks. Azizza Davis Goines: You know as pretty as these are, they're probably full of dust, full of mites and I don't know if that's a really good thing for the girls. Glennah Trochet: Stuffed Animals are great places for dust mites to hide, washing all blankets and sheets on your bed every week will minimize dust mites, keeping your kitchen as clean as you possibly can, not leaving any food out in anyway can minimize the amount of cockroaches that may come that you will never see but they're there. Female Speaker: While mom Anna does not smoke inside or around her children, she is yet to kick the habit although she is working on it. Anna Cornelius: Because I will stop smoking, the smell of a cigarette would bother me, but they're only when I get over-stressed or overwhelmed, I'd still take a drag half the cigarette. Female Speaker: Anna takes her girls to a county clinic where their asthma was recently diagnosed, but she is worried about the future. Azizza Davis Goines: Clinics are closing all over this area like crazy, the safety nets that were available for these children no longer exists in many of the neighborhoods. It's a very, very sad situation, deplorable. Female Speaker: From 19-year