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Background of South Florida Asthma Consortium

South Florida Asthma Consortium (SFA) was founded using the models offered by the St. Louis Asthma Consortium and the Asthma Consortium of Chicago. The conception of the idea of having an asthma consortium in South Florida began during a casual conversation between Janvier Gasana, MD, PhD, and a former chairman of the St. Louis Asthma Consortium. Dr. Gasana’s enthusiasm for child health stemmed from his previous work in creating the Florida Children’s Environmental Health Alliance (www.fceha.org), which focuses on reducing exposure to lead and other environmental hazards. As a professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at Florida International University, as well as a medical doctor, Dr. Gasana makes children’s health a priority in his research.

Dr. Gasana partnered with the program director of the American Lung Association’s South Florida office (ALA), Andrew Cuddihy, MPH, CHES. Andrew then used the reach of the ALA to have leaders of the community join the planning committee of SFA. The response from the South Florida communities was overwhelming. They both knew that the consortium would need widespread geographical support to succeed and make an impact in South Florida. It was proposed that the consortium include members and residents of Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe, and Palm Beach Counties. This meant that the consortium would serve nearly 5.1 million residents (more than a quarter of the population of Florida) spanning over 230 miles of Florida’s eastern coastline. The consortium immediately gained support from the school boards and health departments of the counties that make up South Florida. Other area agencies that supported a formation of an asthma consortium included hospitals, local major universities including Florida Atlantic University, Nova Southeastern University, Barry University, and University of Miami and local health-oriented non-profit organizations.

Within 4 months, and after many meetings, South Florida Asthma filed for incorporation as a Florida non-profit, and then applied for 501(c)(3) status by the IRS. In May of 2008, just 6 months after the decision to create a consortium, South Florida Asthma became a charitable reality, ready to make a difference in the communities of South Florida.

The goals and mission of SFA revolve around the idea of improving the quality of life for those suffering from asthma, and their caretakers. SFA will use community-based scientifically-advanced research to determine what is unique to South Florida that affects persons with asthma. Also, SFA is a constant presence at local health fairs, helping educate residents about the importance of properly managing asthma, and consistently working with a physician that follows NHLBI Asthma Guidelines.

With great enthusiasm and support of the community, SFA decided that its first priority to establish itself in the scientific arena, would be by conducting a pilot study that assessed household allergens and children’s specific IgE to allergens, across all four counties. SFA was able to obtain the ICAS (Inner City Asthma Study) research protocols through Dr. Gasana’s colleagues at Johns Hopkins University. The ICAS was conducted in 8 metropolitan areas across the country but did not cover the subtropical region of Florida. Now SFA has the support of a major environmental health consulting firm (CIHES = CIH Environmental Solutions), and the support of its laboratory to carry out a pilot study at a minimal cost.

After receiving charitable status, SFA approached the industry leader in allergen research, Phadia, Inc. Phadia offered to assist SFA by providing an ImmunoCAP 100, free of charge, to be used in a pilot study that will test 120 children for their specific allergens and then design an allergen-specific home intervention. This pilot study will cover 6 municipalities in the 4 counties served by SFA. Those included are Belle Glade, Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Homestead, and the Keys. This study will also include the concept of Healthy Homes, which was originally written to help reduce childhood lead exposure, but since then has grown in scope to include diseases that are linked to household hazards that include injury hazards, allergens and hygiene issues.

SFA plans to partner with corporate sponsors to offer products that would help households with asthmatic children to combat asthma allergens. Some products that would be requested would be: dust mite impermeable mattress and pillow coverings, asthma-friendly cleaning supplies, solid-state insecticides, and carbon monoxide detectors. Improving the indoor air quality of a home is essential to reducing household allergens.

To be an effective community organization, SFA has created committees charged with specific goals. The Community and Advocacy Advisory / School and Health Department Advisory:  a) Community and Advocacy Advisory - is in charge of providing outreach, promoting improvements, increasing awareness, developing policy resolutions and reviewing health laws and b) School and Health Department Advisory - is in charge of applying NHLBI guidelines, establishing projects, programs and surveillance systems to enhance education. The Asthma Diagnosis and Management Advisory is in charge of improving clinical management through data, education and advocacy. The Research and Evaluation Advisory serves as data collection agency and reviews body, distributes outcome data and collects information for a fatal asthma registry. The Funding Advisory identifies and solicits funding sources at the community, state, and federal levels to ensure sustainability.

The Research and Evaluation Committee is responsible for keeping the consortium up to date on the latest asthma knowledge and also leading the research projects undertaken by SFA. The Asthma Research Team composed of graduate students and volunteers meet with Dr. Gasana who is a member of the Research and Evaluation Committee on a weekly basis to discuss their findings and receive new assignments. In 2008, this committee presented posters, at the state and national level, and was awarded 1st and 3rd place at the Florida Environmental Health Association’s 60th Annual Conference (FEHA). In total, 8 posters were presented at FEHA in August 2008, with another 6 presented in November at the University of South Florida’s National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health Sunshine Education and Research Center. Two posters were also presented at the National Institutes of Health: Healthcare Disparities Summit in Washington D.C. during December 2008. In February 2009, a total of 10 abstracts were submitted for consideration to the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) annual conference as well as to the 2009 FEHA annual conference. This year (2010), 16 abstracts have been accepted by APHA for their November 2010 Meeting in Denver, CO.

The motivated graduate students and volunteers that make up this Asthma Research Team continue to strive and spread the accomplishments of SFA. The students’ research goes beyond that of literary analysis and undertakes a process known as meta-analysis. Using this process, the data collected from many studies is compiled and then analyzed as its own group, providing a stronger statistical advantage by increasing the total number of participants in the analysis. In addition to surveying the literature, the Research and Evaluation Committee is also working on projects that evaluate data from the Health Choice Network, consulting on the Belle Glade Asthma Intervention Evaluation Papers, as well as analyzing asthma management data from the Broward County Health Department and Belle Glade Pediatric Asthma Data.

The Consortium has undertaken the South Florida Asthma Pilot Study” (SFA PS). It focuses 1) the Immuno Cap Allergy test (ICAT), 2) the biomarker testing (BT), 3) the home evaluation (HE), 4) the survey of psychosocial factors (SPF) using Juniper’s Quality of Life Questionnaire, 5) the environmental intervention (EI), and 6) a Physician Feedback Intervention (PFI) with regard to childhood asthma in Monroe, Miami Dade, Broward, & Palm Beach counties. The goal is to provide the child’s caretaker with the knowledge, skills, moti­vation, equipment, and supplies necessary to control their child’s asthma. SFA PS will evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention to reduce asthma morbidity and severity among 120 South East Florida children (20 children in each of the 4 counties – Monroe, Miami Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach plus additional 20 in Homestead (agricultural area in Miami Dade) and 20 in Belle Glade (agricultural area in Palm Beach). This will be a modified replication of the ICAS (Inner City Asthma Study) which was conducted about 10 years ago and that covered the country except the subtropical region of Florida. The results of the study will show what types of allergens that are prevalent in South Florida, and this will guide the intervention to control and/or prevent these triggers of asthma. On March 22, 2010, the Consortium received an Award of Appreciation from Miami Dade County Health Department for this work on triggers of asthma among children in South Florida.


Use the wealth of talent and resources within our community to create an environment that promotes respiratory health and to improve the quality of life of those living with asthma


To develop and implement a regional action plan that improves the quality of life of those with asthma through empowerment, education, outreach, collaboration, and services.


  1. Encourage the health departments and hospitals in the South East Florida to establish and maintain an asthma surveillance program
  2. Work with local universities and colleges to develop research, medical (clinical), environmental, and public health (epidemiological) approaches to identity existing gaps in education, knowledge and services with regard to the management of asthma.
  3. Provide service, education, and advocacy that build healthier homes, schools, and communities in order to facilitate information exchange on the best practices or models in the area of asthma care.
  4. Support community-based partners and health care providers to collaborate in the identification and implementation of strategies to provide children and families affected by asthma with access to environmental interventions and physician feedback interventions designed to reduce the burden of asthma morbidity and severity.
  5. Promote collaboration among health care providers to identify resources available in the community to appropriately diagnose and better manage asthma through the use of new 2007 NLHBI Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma
  6. To create and maintain a partnership in high-risk communities by continuously evaluating their needs and to provide solutions to reduce the burden of asthma morbidity and severity.


1) Community and Advocacy Advisory by Recipients of Community Grants and Advocacy Groups / School and Health Department Advisory by School Health and Health Department Administrators

A) Community and Advocacy Advisory:

a.     Ensures that caregivers and children understand and apply NHLBI guidelines for managing asthma

b.     Provide outreach to underserved and high-risk communities through community based programs

c.     Promote community-wide improvements in asthma care

d.     Increase asthma awareness

e.     Promote increased use of the National Asthma Awareness and Education Program

f.      Serve as a resource for cutting-edge asthma information

g.     Promote collaboration between consortium and community

h.     Develop public policy resolutions

i.      Review state and local health laws


B) School and Health Department Advisory:

a.     Ensure that all public, private, and child care institutions understand and apply the NHLBI guidelines

b.     Create projects and programs that enhance asthma education

c.     Exhibit and distribute asthma education materials to instructors, administrators, and school nurses

d.     Establish a surveillance system to monitor and report on data from county and institutions on their asthma incidence and prevalence

e.     Analyze presented demographic data based on environmental factors

2) Asthma Diagnosis and Management Advisory by MDs, Nurses, and Hospital Administrators

a.     Improve clinical management through data, education, and advocacy

            i.    Provider tool kit

           ii.    Patient/Family tool kit

          iii.    Provider education interventions

3) Research and Evaluation Advisory by Hospitals, Clinics, and Universities

a.     Serve as the data collection agency and review body for the consortium

b.     Distribute outcome data

c.     Ensure that information about the consortium is accurate and readily available

d.     Collect information for a fatal asthma registry

4) Funding

a. Identify and solicit funding sources at the community, state, and federal levels to ensure sustainability.


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