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COPD Learn More Breathe Better®, a campaign of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and the Breathe Better Network worked together to raise awareness of COPD as part of National COPD Awareness Month. This year, during the month of November, the COPD Learn More Breathe Better campaign, issued the call to "listen to your lungs" and speak with a health care provider if you are exhibiting symptoms of COPD.
The NHLBI also released the results of a new survey showing that 71 percent of adults in the United States say they are now aware of a condition called COPD, compared with 65 percent in 2008. Despite this good news there is still a lot of work to be done. Almost one-third (27 percent) of current smokers stated that over the past year they had suffered from a chronic cough, wheezing or have been too short of breath to do normal activities — more than double that of the general population (13 percent). Yet, 40 percent of those smokers who had experienced symptoms also reported that they had not talked with a doctor or health care provider about those symptoms.
To assist the Breathe Better Network in their outreach activities, the COPD Learn More Breathe Better campaign developed a 2011 Fall Outreach Toolkit which included various resources for outreach to local media and radio and print PSAs placement. The toolkit also included a PSA-branded flip cam. Network members from all over the country used the flip cams to capture COPD awareness activities, patient interviews and other fun ways to spread the word about COPD. Be sure to check out the videos and photos on Facebook!
Network members had great success talking with local media; sharing information via their websites and social media channels such as Facebook and YouTube; and hosting screening and awareness events for the public — even holding a flash mob! In addition to the local media outreach conducted by our partners, James Kiley, Ph.D., Director of the Division of Lung Diseases at the NHLBI, participated in a national radio media tour and spoke with numerous stations across the country about the new COPD research, latest statistics and the importance of early detection and treatment.
It?s not too late! Be sure to send in articles, photos and videos capturing your outreach activities during National COPD Awareness Month for the Campaign to post to Facebook and Twitter and share with the greater COPD community!
Rebecca Wills, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital
A veteran respiratory therapist, Rebecca Wills has been working with patients suffering from breathing issues like COPD for the past 18 years. Wills is the Pulmonary Program Manager at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, a 310 bed facility that provides a full continuum of care, in Lincoln, Nebraska. She's responsible for the development, growth, quality and marketing of programs for adult and pediatric tracheotomy and ventilator patients. Wills also regularly presents on a variety of pulmonary related topics to health care professionals at the local, regional and national levels.
In the 15 years Wills has been on staff at Madonna, she has led COPD education activities for the hospital. In addition to coordinating educational outreach events in the local community, she's coached physical fitness trainers and members of Madonna's medical fitness center, ProActive, in facilitating COPD patient care. "It's been my life's passion to help my patients breathe a little easier and make sure they are constantly receiving adequate guidance at every stage of their care," Wills says. Drawing on her devotion to patients, Wills has been working with Madonna's clinical staff and case managers to develop a system for identifying patients that are at risk for COPD who suffer from other co-morbidities (e.g., heart disease, diabetes etc.). This effort affords Madonna staff the opportunity to begin educating patients sooner in their stay and share how best to manage their specific combination of health issues.
Wills remains dedicated to the COPD cause and works to continually hone her skills by attending various CME opportunities and lectures, and bringing what she learns back to share with colleagues. As a Core Partner in COPD Learn More Breathe Better® campaign's Breathe Better Network, Wills and Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital are committed to increasing the awareness of COPD among health professionals and the general public.
In October of 2009, the COPD Learn More Breathe Better® campaign formalized its partnership network and launched the Breathe Better Network. Since then, Network members have been steadily at work spreading awareness about COPD and in doing so, have expanded the Campaign's reach to 44 states and the District of Columbia. The Network continues to grow and recently added four new organizations to its ranks:
American Lung Association of New England
The American Lung Association of New England serves a six state region including Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. The New England chapter of the Lung Association hosts annual COPD education events in a number of states throughout its region as well as facilitates several Better Breathers Clubs. Additionally, the organization has cultivated strong relationships with health care providers in the region through its ongoing commitment to outreach and education with this group.
American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific
The American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific serves a seven state region including Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. Utilizing its recently developed regional COPD action plan, each state also conducted a number of COPD activities (e.g., lunch n' learns, distribution of letters to the editor, mobilization of Better Breathers Clubs, etc.) for National COPD Awareness Month.
Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. It was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, and considers COPD an important disease to address. Staff from the Cleveland Clinic conducted screenings at local health fairs in Ohio during National COPD Awareness Month and the Clinic is one of the study sites participating in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Long-term Oxygen Treatment Trial (LOTT).
Pulmonary Associates of the Southeast, PC
The Pulmonary Associates of the Southeast is a physician group specializing in respiratory diseases and allergy/immunology, comprised of 10 physicians covering four hospitals in Birmingham, AL and the surrounding area. The Associates conduct spirometry testing at health fairs several times each year and host an annual COPD education event during National COPD Awareness Month.
Please join the COPD Learn More Breathe Better campaign in welcoming these new Breathe Better Network members! If you know of a group or organization that might be a strong addition to the Network, please let us know.
COPD Learn More Breathe Better® and Country Conquers COPD™ are trademarks of HHS.
Tell us about you! Email us to let us know what your organization is doing on behalf of COPD awareness.