JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - St. Bernards partnered with Medi-Pak Advantage PPO to host a free program to the public on Thursday called "The Need to Breathe."
The three-part seminar focused on better breathing.
The panel of presenters were Dr. Joshua Morrison, a pulmonologist at the St. Bernards Clopton Clinic; Brett Vinson, a respiratory therapist at St. Bernards; and Assistant Manager of the St. Bernards Cardiac Rehabilitation program Jim Stearns.
Stearns said this is a topic that affects everyone.
"Lung disease is everywhere," Stearns said. "The hospitals are full with people that have the flu and things that are directly related to lung disease. And so we need to make sure everyone is aware of some signs and symptoms so they know when to see their physician, know when to go to the emergency room. So, getting more community programs where people can have a chance to ask questions in a low-stress environment is important."
Stearns said a few symptoms to watch for are shortness of breath, continuously spitting things up or even a low-grade fevers.
"Normal, typical things are signs," Stearns said. "Don't wait until it's really bad before you go and seek some healthcare. Go to your general practitioner and let them know your having these problems."
Pulmonary Physician Dr. Joshua Morrison said they wanted to educate as many people as possible.
"Especially this time of the year," Morrison said. "With people getting the sniffles and allergies, in our area we do see a lot of lung disease. Especially with people exposed to agricultural type stuff. People in industrial type jobs, there's a lot of heavy burden of lung disease and it's pretty significant in general in terms of how much it costs people. How much it costs the country in general in healthcare dollars. We just wanted to hit at an area that affected a lot of people and try to teach people a few things to be better advocates for themselves."
The discussions covered things like pulmonary hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), sleep apnea, asthma and allergies.
Vinson said he was pleased to see the number of caregivers that attended.
"The importance of the information we provided today will possibly help keep them from having a hospitalization," Vinson said. "Some things they can use at home to also be able to treat and manage their disease. And it's very important that most of them brought their caregivers with them, their spouses or their significant others to also understand this disease process and how they can help manage their loved one."
It seemed all the speakers were in agreement on one major point: acting immediately and communication.
"Communicate with your primary care physician," Vinson said. "Communicate with your home health nurses. Communicate with your medical centers. Just have good communication and not wait til the last minute if you have a chronic lung disease flare up."
"Be an advocate for yourself," Stearns said. "When you go see your doctor, or you come to see us in the lung clinic especially, have your questions ready. Be real engaged in your healthcare because we can do everything we can, but it helps if you have an active role in your body. It makes things go a lot better in the long run."
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