Asthma education is taking center stage in Lockwood Schools thanks to an infusion of cash from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.
Kristen Bonner, a registered nurse with RiverStone Health, has received $500 through the School Nurse Mini-Grant Program sponsored by the Montana Asthma Control Program, which is administered the state DPHHS.
Bonner provides nursing services to the Lockwood Schools, where she works with students and their families to ensure students’ health and well-being. She is among 18 school nurses awarded grants by the Montana Asthma Control Program for the 2011-12 school year.
RiverStone Health, the county’s public health agency, contracts with schools in Yellowstone County outside Billings School District 2 to provide nursing services.
Bonner is using the money to train teachers, coaches and other staff members about asthma, how to help manage the illness in their students and how the school can work toward becoming “asthma-friendly.” She has been holding in-service training workshops for staffers and plans to create and distribute an educational pamphlet for parents.
“I think it’s a great avenue that gives me an opportunity to provide education,” Bonner said. “It allows me time to focus on asthma. I want to educate the staff about the impact asthma can have on a student and help the staff provide the best care possible to keep students in school.”
Bonner also will educate staff members on how best to identify those with asthma, a significant health issue.
Asthma, a chronic disorder of the airways, affects approximately 24,000 children up to age 17 in Montana. Nationwide, 7 million children have asthma, and it’s one of the leading causes of school absences across the country.
Katie Church, health educator for the Montana Asthma Control Program, said Bonner deserves credit for taking on the initiative.
“School nurses already have a lot on their plate, especially when there is only one who is responsible for a large area. These nurses recognize that their efforts can go a long way to help increase the quality of life for both individual students and the school community as a whole.”
Funding for the program is provided by a grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.