By Avery Keatley
Put on your party hats, Pittsburgh, because today is Asthma Institute Day! That’s right, City Council declared this morning that today would be “The University of Pittsburgh Asthma Institute of UPMC Day.” We know, it’s a mouthful, so we’re content just to call it Asthma Institute Day.
We were introduced to City Council by Pittsburgh City Council President, Bruce Kraus. When called to the front of the council chamber, our directors, Dr. Wenzel and Dr. Holguin, accompanied by our community outreach specialists Jackie Dixon and Mary Fisher, went forward to represent Team Asthma. President Kraus read the formal proclamation (abbreviated here) from the podium under bright chandeliers:
“WHEREAS, the University of Pittsburgh Asthma Institute…is led by Drs. Sally Wenzel and Fernando Holguin who are internationally and nationally recognized for their work in asthma…; and, WHEREAS Drs. Wenzel and Holguin have recognized the need for better methods of treatment…; and NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Council of the City of Pittsburgh commends the important and life changing work done by the University of Pittsburgh Asthma Institute of UPMC…; and, NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Council of the City of Pittsburgh does hereby declare Tuesday, May 13, 2014 to be “The University of Pittsburgh Asthma Institute of UPMC Day.”
Like we said, Asthma Institute Day is just fine by us.
After the motion passed, Dr. Wenzel stepped up to make a few remarks about what exactly we do here, and what our goals are. She noted the fact the Pittsburgh was ranked 15th worst city in the country to have asthma because of air quality. “[W]e suffer a great deal form the burden of asthma here in Pittsburgh.” She went on to note that Pittsburgh’s African American population with asthma (more than 25% of the city’s total population according to the 2012 census), faces “mortality rates about five to seven times higher” than their white counterparts.
“The University of Pittsburgh Asthma Institute,” she said, “is dedicated to trying to improve some of those disparities. Our efforts involve approaches at the clinical level…but also from a research perspective, where we feel that there is a tremendous amount of room for improvement.” She stated that we want to understand asthma, what makes it so severe, and what makes it especially difficult to treat in the African American community. Dr. Wenzel explained that our goals include “reaching out to family practice groups [and] underserved communities, and [improving] the lives of all our citizens with asthma in the Pittsburgh metro region.”
We are so proud of our doctors, our staff, and our work. We’d like to send a special “Thank You” to the City Council members of Pittsburgh for recognizing our collective effort to help Pittsburgh breathe easy. And lastly, we’re thrilled to be celebrating Asthma Institute Day!
Feeling ambitious? Want to read all of Dr. Wenzel’s remarks this morning? Click here.
Feeling even more ambitious? Get involved with us! Check out our website to see if you qualify for our current studies!