East Harlem walk-in asthma center opens

NEW YORK Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer have announced the opening of a new asthma walk-in center in East Harlem, where the rate of childhood asthma hospitalizations is the highest in the city.

The new East Harlem walk-in asthma center -- an expansion of the East Harlem Asthma Center of Excellence and a part of the City's PlaNYC initiative -- is aimed to reduce childhood asthma hospitalizations by 50% over the next five years.

The center is one of the key initiatives of Stringer's Go Green East Harlem, a collaborative community-based initiative that has focused on five core areas: public health and healthy food, parks and open space, sustainable business, transportation, and green building.

The walk-in center staff worked out of the East and Central Harlem District Public Health Office before the new space was completed. The $3.5 million project included $700,000 from the Manhattan borough president's office. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services provided site selection and project management services for the construction.

The new walk-in center will offer a number of asthma-related services, including on-site asthma assessments, individual and group asthma education, social support services, one-on-one asthma counseling, linkage to services to rid homes of asthma-triggering pests and mold and referrals for medical care. The walk-in center will also include a library with educational materials and computers with Internet access to help families learn the best strategies to manage asthma.

More than 25% of the children in East Harlem have asthma, and East Harlem has the highest rate of childhood asthma hospitalizations in the city. In 2008, 11-of-every-1,000 East Harlem children ages 14 years and younger were hospitalized. In 2008, Stringer and the Health Department's East and Central Harlem District Public Health Office founded the East Harlem Asthma Center of Excellence to address the issue.

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