NEW YORK (PIX11) — New York State’s annual asthma bill is $1.3 billion for medical costs and lost productivity, according to Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
A report issued by DiNapoli’s office Friday noted that 1.7 million people in New York suffer from the chronic disorder that inflames and narrows the airways of the lungs. For Medicaid recipients, New York’s highest asthma rates are in the Bronx and four upstate counties.
“Children and adults suffering from asthma are at a higher risk of missing work, school, or time with loved ones when instead they have to visit the emergency room,” City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito said.
The asthma epidemic is also felt in East Harlem, where many residents are surrounded by outdoor asthma triggers, such as air pollution, second-hand smoke and sites including the 126th Street bus depot.
“It’s really frustrating because you don’t know what to do. You don’t have the means to move where the environment is better,” said Melanie Citron, an East Harlem mother whose 3-year-old son has asthma.
For help, Melanie turned to the Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service. The nonprofit helps families clear their homes of items that might aggravate asthma symptoms.
Ray Lopez works, with LSA, told PIX11, they’re still seeing thousands of kids in that neighborhood with asthma.
“Maybe they’re not ending up in the hospital like the used to but they still miss a lot of school they still have to use these rescue medications on a daily basis and it’s sort of no escape for some of these parents,” Lopez said.