Missouri schools now have access to live-saving medications for kids with asthma attacks

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Missouri schools now have access to certain medications that could save lives, and it's helping some breathe easier in class.

“It`s very common; more than 150,000 children in Missouri have asthma," said Ben Francisco, an associate professor of pulmonary medicine at the University of Missouri Women's and Children's Hospital in Columbia. "And in this neighborhood, it`s one in four kids have asthma -- 25 percent. And in this neighborhood, we have the highest emergency room and hospitalization rate in the state of Missouri."

Wendell Philips Elementary School showcased an asthma treatment program that could save the lives of its students on Wednesday.

“The state of Missouri made it possible for schools to keep medication for any child with life-threatening asthma attacks,” Francisco said.

With the help of Children’s Mercy Hospital, KC public schools now have access to medications that can treat asthma attacks. Even more importantly, school nurses can give students having attacks those medications as they wait for an ambulance to arrive.

The school nurse at Wendell Phillips Elementary School, Keshia May, said this will make her job a lot easier.

“Our students are not being properly medicated,” May said. “Some of them are coming in with coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath.”

“If you`re a school nurse or a principal and you have no medication, then the child is going to either go home or have an ambulance ride,” Francisco said.

Wendell Philips teachers said a student died over Thanksgiving break after having a severe asthma attack.

Now, this program provides training and equipment needed to assess breathing in kids and teaches kids how to use their daily medications.

“Way long overdue,” Francisco said. “We had very sad deaths all over the state of school-aged children who didn't understand that their asthma was life-threatening and to parents who knew their kid didn't breathe well, but didn't know they could actually die of that.”

This program is helping generate awareness and saving lives.

“They cost $10 to have the medicine and the equipment in a building, a school building, so it`s super low cost. It's like why would you not do this?” Francisco said.

The program has been active in several parts of the state, but Wednesday it officiallly started in Kansas City. The goal is to eventually cover the whole state.