Renee Barnes knows what it’s like when her child can’t breathe.
As the mother of two boys, aged 5 and 2, that both suffer from asthma, Renee is spearheading a new initiative at BRHS to help asthma sufferers in East Gippsland prevent serious asthma attacks.
Renee is an Emergency Department (ED) nurse, a role in which she regularly sees people coming back to the ED suffering asthma attacks after they have been unable to manage the condition on their own.
Her goal, she says, is to empower people to manage their asthma so it doesn’t get to the stage where they need to rush to the ED.
About 200 people a year present to the BRHS ED suffering some form of asthma.
“When a person with asthma leaves the ED we need to do a better job of making sure they follow up with their GP, or know how to use their meds, or that they can make whatever changes to their environment they need to make so they don’t end up back in the ED a few months later,” she says.
And that’s about education. And so Renee is working at providing asthma sufferers with information in the ED designed to help them manage their asthma and avoid serious attacks in the future.
The good news is, help is already out there.
“There are lots of really great asthma education and treatment resources in this community that I don’t think enough people know about,” she says.
One of those is Gippsland Lakes Community Health’s (GLCH) Respiratory Service.
GLCH’s Respiratory Educators are Registered Nurses that help people with asthma and other respiratory diseases learn things they can do to manage the condition.
This includes learning how to use medications and devices, how to recognise early warning signs, and the role of food and exercise in combating asthma.
“If we can get more people to access resources like this, I think that will help prevent people having serious attacks that require hospitalisation,” Renee says.
September marks the beginning of a spring asthma season, when pollen can trigger problems for people with respiratory conditions.
People with asthma are urged to speak to their GP about how to prevent asthma attacks during spring. They can also request a referral to the GLCH Respiratory Service.
For more information to help you ward off asthma attacks this spring visit asthma.org.au