Editor’s Note: This was a multi-party contribution involving Kim Komenich (photos) Kwan Booth (text) NewsDesk.org (editing) Spot.Us (financial support). This is part of a series that we’ll be posting over the next week.
Talking to Dr. Washington Burns the other day I learned some pretty shocking information: 37 percent of the adults and 20 percent of the kids living in West Oakland have asthma and children living in this community are seven times more likely to be hospitalized for breathing related illness than any other children in California.
And Alameda County as a whole is no prize, with one of the highest overall hospitalization rates among 5-17 year old youth.
I learned this bit of info while sitting inside the Breathmobile, the new mobile asthma testing facility run by the Prescott Joseph Center, where Dr. Burns is executive director. And while the numbers are shocking on the first mention, it’s something West Oakland residents have been battling for a years.
For the last 14 years the Prescott Joseph Center has been somewhat of an oasis for west Oakland residents seeking information on a variety of health and wellness issues. The center, located only a short distance from the Port of Oakland, is home to the Asthma Education Center, the only place in the area where those without insurance (a large percentage of the residents) can receive care and instruction on breathing related illnesses. And while the education center has been around since 2001, the Breathmobile is a new solution to an old problem: access to quality health care in low income communities.