by Latoya Burnham
Parents and even some teachers seem reluctant to deal with asthmatic children in the way they should.
And a nurse and member of the local Asthma Association says this could prove to be very dangerous.
Nurse at the St. Philip Polyclinic, Nisa Broomes, said this week as she manned the association’s booth at the health day at Princess Margaret Secondary that some delinquent parents were leaving small children wheezing all weekend and taking them to clinics the following Monday, while teachers were scared to use inhalers at school.
“I don’t think that people in Barbados actually take asthma that seriously,” Broomes said, adding that in her job she had spoken to teachers who said they were afraid to give Ventolin inhaler treatments at school.
“I’m like Ventolin is not going to cause any harm because it is something you can use a lot of. I am on the asthma committee and we have tried many times to have a session with them [teachers], sometimes they don’t turn up; we send out information and they are just a bit resistant doing the right thing in the schools because every school should really have a Ventolin inhaler and a spacer, every school.”
The spacer she had earlier explained was a cylindrical device, also called an aero-chamber, which could be attached to the inhaler for easier use, especially for children. The spacer was also reusable after washing.
“Ventolin is like $10-and change and it last on average two years from the manufacturing date, so it is not like you have to be buying this thing over and over again. It is very, very cost effective. So you can just keep this at the school and if somebody has an asthma attack, give them the first line treatment and then get them somewhere.
“We have persons who are waiting for parents to get to the school to take them to hospital. We have teachers who will not do anything, they will just wait til the parents come. I will probably get licks for saying it…, but it’s the truth. We have tried. We even go out to the schools and try to educate the teachers and students.
“We have talks, we have competitions in the schools about asthma, so there are incentives but we find they are still getting problems in the prevention, using the preventions and also of the administration of the school doing what we think they should be doing with relation to asthma in the school.”
She said teachers were not the only concerns either, but that delinquent parents with asthmatic children were also not taking it seriously.
“[W]e have very delinquent parents who would keep the children at home for an entire weekend and just give them Ventolin and say they not going anywhere but will wait ’til the clinics open and present them at the clinic early Monday morning. We ask how long has this child been wheezing and we hear since Friday. That’s the sort of thing we are dealing with and they are sometimes very little children,” said the nurse.
Broomes said there was also an added challenge in that the traditional inhalers were difficult to use, even with good demonstrations, which was why the association promoted the use of spacers as well.
But she maintained that asthmatics had to take better care and management of their condition.
“We still find people who have been out of inhalers for weeks or months and they come in when they have the attack. You ask when was the last time you used the inhaler and you hear I was out since whenever… I think we have done the education but you still get parents saying I don’t want to go down to hospital. I don’t want to do that.
“What I always say, you don’t want to go down to hospital, but then you end up with a dead child on your hands, so what do you prefer? The thing about it is that at the hospital as soon as you get there you will be placed in asthma bay and you will be treated immediately. The wait comes for the doctor, not the treatment. So I don’t see why they don’t do it. Even if you get treated and you decide to leave, at least you would have been treated.”