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Asthma treatment focus at Geisinger

The two training sessions were held for nurses, teachers and school staff.

Tony Delonti of the American Lung Association conducts asthma training for local school employees at Geisinger Wyoming Valley in Plains Township on Monday. The training was sponsored by Steps for a Healthier Pa.

Times Leader staff photo/Don Carey

PLAINS TWP. – Contrary to a pop-culture image, asthma sufferers generally should not stuff the stubby end of the typical inhaler into their mouths and spray.

“That way you get the medicine all over your tongue, teeth and everywhere but where you need it,” American Lung Association Lung Health Manager Tony Delonti told a small group of school nurses and other professionals Monday.

It doesn’t do much good to simply hold the inhaler in front of the face and spray it, he added, with a demonstration that looked more like he was spritzing on perfume, though that can work if you start inhaling through an open mouth just before spraying.

The best way is to use a “spacer,” a tube between inhaler and mouth that holds the vaporized medicine long enough for slow, deep breath that takes the drug where it’s needed: into the lungs.

It was a simple lesson, suitable for a short training session dubbed “Asthma 101,” held at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Hospital Monday. The goal was to better educate teachers, nurses and other school staff on the fundamentals of asthma, said Midge Berfield, a nurse consultant from Steps to a Healthier Pa., the group that arranged Delonti’s training session. Steps to a Healthier Pa. is funded by the Centers for Disease Control through the State Department of Health.

Delonti actually had two training sessions in one four-hour gathering. Asthma 101 is lasts about an hour, while “Open Airways for Schools” is a more comprehensive program designed to train school personnel to go back and teach students how to better manage asthma, Berfield said. That student training is designed to be done over six sessions.

Those two Lung Association programs have been around a while, but this is the first year Steps to a Healthier Pa. has paid for local training. Monday’s crowd included nurses from Pittston Area and Wyoming Area School Districts, as well as a nurse from Blue Cross and a respiratory therapist from Allentown.

Delonti told the group that it would be a good idea to extend the training to parents. The bottom line is that the more people who understand the finer points of asthma management, the better.

“You’re getting the end results of their lack of understanding in your schools,” he said.

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