Owensboro Health offers support

Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com B.C. Childress, Owensboro Health’s manager of outpatient pharmacy services, talks about COPD during a Better Breathers Club meeting on Wednesday at Owensboro Health Healthpark.

Owensboro Health recently started offering monthly American Lung Association Better Breathers Club meetings.

The support group was formed to offer community-based educational opportunities to people who suffer from chronic lung disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary diease, pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer. Caregivers also are welcome to attend.

"In conversations, it was identified there was not an active support group for people with lung disease," said Sara Abell, OH nurse manager of heart and lung rehabilitation.

The idea of starting a local Better Breathers Club came from an OH committee that was looking for ways to decrease hospital admissions and readmissions for people with COPD and other lung diseases. COPD is a focus area for the committee because people with that diagnosis seem to be in and out of the hospital more often.

The local club meets from noon to 1 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at the Healthpark, 1006 Ford Ave. Meetings take place in the west concourse, a large hallway that links the Healthpark and Ford Medical Office Building.

That location was selected because it is very close to handicap parking spaces and requires a very brief walk. Both are important issues for people with chronic lung disease.

Meetings are free to the public, and lunch is provided. No reservations are required.

On July 3, B.C. Childress, OH manager of outpatient pharmacy services, presented an overview of lung medications and the best way to take them. Also, Dr. John Walker, an OH physician who specializes in family medicine, provided tips to help people who suffer from allergies, asthma and COPD to prevent flare-ups.

About 25 people attended. They received handouts on managing COPD at home and 10 things people with lung disease wish people knew.

For example, simple tasks may take twice as long for someone with chronic lung disease, and walks may require frequent stops to rest. People with lung disease may look well, but it's important to understand they are not.

"Rushing anywhere willl leave me gasping for breath," one handout said, "and the stress it causes can make me feel even more breathless. So it's important to plan every detail of what I do ... so please have patience."

Trisha Burden, 52, of Owensboro, was diagnosed with COPD a decade ago. Burden attended the last two Better Breathers Club meetings.

About 18 months ago, her lung disease progressed to the point she needed an oxygen tank.

"I've learned something at each meeting," Burden said. "For one thing, they talked about how to use inhalers."

Also, she likes attending the Better Breathers Club because it provides social interaction with people who struggle with some of the same difficulties.

Burden attends lung rehab sessions at OH's Ford Medical Office Building. While there, the medical staff monitors her breathing while she exercises.

"I knew I needed to start exercising," she said. "I knew I wasn't able to do a lot."

During the July 3 Better Breathers Club, guests took a clean air quiz. They were asked to identify U.S. cities that had the cleanest air.

In the future, Abell, the club's facilitator, hopes to recruit someone to teach harmonica lessons, which is a good exercise for people with lung disease.

"This is all evolving," Abell said of the Better Breathers Club.

For more information or to join the new club, call 270-688-5155 or email Sara.Abell@owensborohealth.org.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com.

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