Air Waves – January 2015 Newsletter


Asthma heats up when it gets COLD!

The cold Ohio winter creates special challenges for people with asthma – breathing in very cold air can trigger an attack, but when homes are more closed up in the winter, the indoor air can be unusually full of triggers such as mold and pet dander.

When the staff at The Breathing Association make home visits to people who suffer from asthma, they identify problem areas that can lead to an asthma attack – and a potential trip to the ER.

Here are a few of our tips for avoiding an asthma attack in the winter:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a clean scarf or face-mask when going outside.
  • Pet dander collects quickly in the home when pets spend more time inside. Keep pets out of the bedroom and vacuum more often.
  • Open up the windows on warmer days to air out your home and let dust and allergens escape, especially right after dusting or vacuuming. 
  • Avoid the common cold which can lead to an asthma flare-up – Get a flu shot, wash your hands frequently and avoid people who are ill.

For more information about managing asthma click here.

What is HEAT Insecurity? past due notice

Heat or energy insecurity means that a household is threatened with, or experiences, gas and/or electric utility shut-off. The heating season presents a special challenge for low-income families who are often forced to choose between paying utility bills and paying for food or other expenses. Living without heat in the winter dramatically increases the risk of illness and hospitalization for family members, exacerbates complications of chronic lung conditions such as COPD for the elderly, and threatens the long term health of young children. 

Ohio’s Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) assists low-income households with the costs of home heating. The Breathing Association is one of only two HEAP providers in Franklin County, helping thousands of struggling families keep the heat and lights on every winter. What’s more, for households receiving energy assistance from us, family members are also eligible to receive a free medical exam, flu shots and can received specialized care for chronic lung conditions. We are the only Franklin County HEAP provider that provides Home Visits to the home-bound or medically vulnerable.

Heat insecurity threatens the health and safety of the people The Breathing Association exists to serve. By providing heating assistance, we significantly reduce the severity and the incidence of lung health complications in this vulnerable population.


For more information about our HEAP programs, click here.

Air Waves – Winter 2014

Ronald’s Story 

Ronald breathes easier thanks to The Breathing Association.

Ronald breathes easier thanks to The Breathing Association.

“It’s great to be around, it’s good to be somewhere,”  is how Ronald Crowe feels these days.  He wonders where he would have been if it were not for the services of The Breathing Association.  Back in May 2012, Ronald found The Breathing Association on the Internet and headed into the Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) suffering from emphysema.

Things were not going well for Ronald at the time.  He had lost his HVAC job, used up his unemployment benefits, and then had to drain his 401K and savings. When he found The Breathing Association Ronald had no health insurance and was wondering what to do.

But the staff at the MMU knew what to do.  Upon arrival at the mobile clinic, Ronald was given a full checkup and immediately diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD.  The nurses were able to enroll him in a plan that takes care of the cost of the medications he needs.  They also found that he was suffering from high blood pressure and were able to get the needed medications taken care of as well.   A respiratory therapist from The Breathing Association followed up with an in-home visit and brought a Nebulizer machine to help Ronald breathe easier.   “They are very good to me and continue to take great care of me.  I don’t know where I would be without their help.  The nurses even call to remind me of my appointments.”

Ronald tells us he has his bad days and his good days and some that are in-between.  “But I am feeling better about life and the future.  I have hope.  With the help of The Breathing Association I don’t have to worry about the cost of the drugs I need to get better.  I wish there were more people like The Breathing Association.” 

Getting To Quit

“Most people who smoke want to quit,” says Doctor Tom Houston.  A member of The Breathing Association Board of Trustees (and past Chairman), Houston says most polls show about 70% of smokers interviewed want to stop.  Getting them to the point of “quit” is the hard part.

 Houston leads the team that offers The Breathing Association’s Tobacco Treatment Specialist  classes.  These courses follow the guidelines of The Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use and Dependence (ATTUD).  Being one of just a few of those programs offered in North America brings participants to Columbus from around the Midwest and Middle-Atlantic states.  The classes are designed to “teach the teachers” who will go out and counsel smokers. “It is important,” says Houston, “to train as many counselors, doctors, nurses, and other health care providers as possible because smokers who go it alone have a high failure rate.”  He estimates only 5% of those who try quitting without the help of a professional actually succeed.  

 The classes offered by The Breathing Association center on psychological as well as physical  effects of smoking.  Houston feels it is important to show all sides of the addiction to a smoker.  He notes one important aspect that some may not think of when it comes to smoking is the mental health of smokers.  He points out that many suffering from depression or bi-polar disease also are addicted to smoking.  So it is important to consider both the mind as well as physical diseases such as Asthma and COPD when trying to persuade the smoker.

 Houston believes further adoption of laws that ban smoking in public places and increased tobacco pricing will continue to decrease the prevalence of tobacco use. While Ohio has adopted comprehensive smoke free indoor air laws, Houston says further increases in state excise taxes on tobacco are needed with the proceeds going to fund comprehensive tobacco control programs across Ohio.  He also credits recent blunt anti-smoking advertising as helping to turn the trend.  Meanwhile Houston adds The Breathing Association classes will cause a positive ripple effect, training more counselors to reach that 70% of the public who want to quit.

Our next Tobacco Treatment Specialist course will be held November 3-7.  Sign up for the classes is available through or by calling 614-437-1524.

HEAP Helps With Heat

Winter’s official start is a month or so away, but the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) at The Breathing Association is geared up and ready to help keep Central Ohio families warm.  “We want to encourage everyone who thinks they may be eligible for the program to make an appointment as soon as possible so that any wait for assistance can be minimized,” says Colette Harrell ,The Breathing Association’s HEAP Director. 

Last winter’s HEAP program was extended until the end of April due to the lingering cold and snow.  Harrell reports almost 9,900 people received assistance through The HEAP program at The Breathing Association during the winter of 2013-2014.  That was almost 16% more than the previous winter. Harrell fears the forecasts of a colder and earlier winter may push the applicant numbers even higher this year.

Harrell points out that the HEAP program not only can keep the heat on, it can result in better health diagnosis for recipients.  “As we sign people up for heating assistance, we have the opportunity to better understand their current medical conditions.  It is so important for those suffering from lung related diseases to have a healthy climate to start with.  Our staff is trained to reach out to applicants and make sure any other health problems they may be suffering from are addressed.”   Harrell adds in its less expensive in the long run to provide the applicants in need with heating assistance than to have to deal with medical problems made worse by chilling conditions in a home or apartment.

HEAP assistance through The Breathing Assistance is made possible through a partnership with the Ohio Development Services Agency’s Office of Community Assistance. 

Warm Wardrobes

“Bundle Up” is easy to say, but when your coat isn’t heavy enough or you don’t have a warm hat and gloves the winter months can be very cold.  That’s why The Breathing Association has the “Stay Warm, Stay Well” program for participants in need of warm winter clothing.  Cash donations are collected through the program and then The Breathing Association purchases the coats for “wardrobes of warmth.”

The Breathing Association staff recounts all kinds of chilling stories from last winter.  One worker tells of seeing a client on a 10 degree weather day with the client arriving wearing a hoodie and no gloves or hat to stay warm.  Another tells us of a pregnant woman applying for heating assistance wrapped in just an old blanket for her coat.  Still another client told workers how she and her husband share one winter coat because that is all the family could afford.

The goal of the program is to keep patients healthy as well as warm.  Leaders of the program remind that staying warm keeps new medical problems from starting and existing ones from getting worse. 

To donate to the “Stay Warm-Stay Well program, call The Breathing Association at 614-457-4570 or click on the “donate now” button on

The Best Defense

To borrow a bit from the football season that keeps many of us occupied these days, “the best defense is a great offense.”  Asthma is a growing epidemic whether it is diagnosed in kids or adults.   Working with a grant from the Harry C. Moores Foundation, The Breathing Association is going to boost its offense by stepping up its emphasis on proactive asthma care.  The goal is to keep people with asthma out of the emergency rooms and their symptoms under control. 

The grant has enabled The Breathing Association to buy HEPA Vacuum cleaners, room HEPA filters, allergy control mattress covers & pillow covers, air duct covers, dehumidifiers, nebulizer tubing, as well as allergy control carpet cleaning from Stanley Steemer. 

These supplies are headed for families who are unable to afford these helpful products and have an asthmatic in the home.  For more information please contact Colleen Wesley at 614-437-1526.  Willing to make a donation in support of our asthma and COPD outreach programs? Please click on the “donate now” button at or call 614-457-4570.




Air Waves – September 2014 Newsletter



Summer 2014 may turn out to be one of the cooler ones but the demand was hot for assistance through The Breathing Association’s Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).  Applications taken during July and August climbed almost 18% over last year to a record 4,229 households.  That included over 680 applicants who qualified for air conditioners or air conditioning repairs. 

“The need was great,” says Colette Harrell, HEAP Director for The Breathing Association.  “We will continue to be a beacon of hope for those in our Central Ohio community that are suffering through rough economic times and breathing problems.
Even now we are readying the assistance program for the upcoming busy winter months.”   

The Director of Lung Health Services for The Breathing Association, Renee Kirwan, points out “another benefit of the HEAP program is that we are able to identify individuals who can benefit from our other important programs.  On kickoff day alone 15 people were seen at our clinic who had been referred through the HEAP program.”

The Breathing Association pioneered the idea of air conditioning assistance under the HEAP program for households and individuals who meet the income and health qualifications.  Today’s program is administered in partnership with the Ohio Development Services Agency’s Office of Community Assistance. 



Asthma outreach programs of The Breathing Association have received renewed support from The Reinberger Foundation.  The Northeast Ohio organization has awarded The Breathing Association a $10,000 grant. 

President/CEO of The Breathing Association, Joanne Spoth welcomed the gift.  “We appreciate The Reinberger Foundation’s investment in our work to provide asthma outreach education and services to local families to help their children breathe easier and its alignment with their commitment to enhance the quality of life for individuals from all walks of life.”

“The Breathing Association has advanced it’s mission over time,” says Karen Hooser, President of The Reinberger Foundation.  “It serves the breathing issues of those in need today as it did the individuals affected by tuberculosis more than 100 years ago.  Asthma can be fatal but with education, healthcare and screening tools it can be managed.” 


For more information or to contact our Asthma outreach nurse, call 614-437-1526.