Thursday, June 13, 2013

1995: The end of the asthma institution

National Jewish Health Campus today
So I ended up on the phone in May of 2009, talking with the person in charge of public relations at National Jewish Health.  She had posted on the National Jewish Health Facebook page that she had copies of a book of stories from former patients published in 1998 for the 100 year anniversary of the opening of National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives. 

I requested that book, but I had so many other questions. And since I had her on the phone I asked away.  She didn't have all the answers, yet she did know that the program I participated in in 1985 no longer existed.  She said, "7-Goodman, 8-Goodman and 2-May no longer exist." 

"Wow!" Is all I could say.  Yet it didn't surprise me.  One of the reasons I became a respiratory therapist in 1995 was because I wanted to take care of asthmatic patients, particularly asthmatic kids.  Yet I never got to take care of hardly any of these kids, because asthma is treated so much better than it was back then. There may be more asthma patients today, although most of them are treated at home, and most are able to maintain good control by seeing regional physicians as opposed to traveling to places like Denver.

She explained how the program was changed to an inpatient program to an outpatient program in 1995.  The main reason she noted was homesickness, and how difficult it was to care for kids who were separated from parents.  Plus I had my own memories of things teenagers did at the asthma hospital, so I could only imagine not having asthmatic kids roaming the halls of a hospital was a major relief for the staff there. 

Yet the major reason she noted was probably because there are so many better asthma medications today, and so much better asthma wisdom.  And the doctors at National Jewish Health have a program where they meet with regional doctors from time to time to educate them with the state of the art asthma wisdom.  In this way, asthma doctors all over the world have access to the same medicines, the same wisdom, as doctors at National Jewish. 

Another major reason was probably cost, as noted on the NationalJewishHealth.org website.  When I was a patient my insurance company approved for me to go there, and the only part of my stay they didn't contest was my stay at PSC, which was just like a regular hospital.  They contested the daily charge of me staying on 7-Goodman and 2-May because, as they noted in letters to my parents, I could have just stayed home and had those tests as an outpatient.

So in order to provide more cost effective medicine, National Jewish created the Pediatric Outpatient Program in 1995.  Children received treatment only during the day, and at night they stayed either at home or in one of Denver's many hotels.  An adult day program was introduced in 1996. If a patient required a hospital stay (like I required a stay at PSC) they would be transferred to one of Denver's hospitals, such as The University of Colorado Hospital or The Children's Hospital. (1)

So this kind of negated the need for 7-Goodman, 8-Goodman and 2-May.  Those were the halls we kids resided in.  Those were the places staffed with nurses specially trained to take care of asthma kids.  Those were the places that housed dormatories for boys and girls aged five to 18. 

Statistics show that asthma rates continue to rise, although most regional physicians are fully capable of helping asthmatics of all ages control and prevent asthma.  Regional doctors even treat many of the kids with intractile asthma today, and with good success.  However, when needed, National Jewish Health still has a program for kids.  Only it's an outpatient program. 

References:
  1. Clinical History, NationalJewishHealth.org, http://www.nationaljewish.org/about/whynjh/history/clinical/clinical-history3/, accessed 11/7/12

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