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College of Public Health

ETSU's Masini serves region as certified asthma educator

As East Tennessee’s only certified asthma educator, respiratory therapist Doug Masini’s job is to help patients of all ages better understand and manage their disease. That’s especially good news for the people of this region, considering that the incidence of asthma has risen sharply in recent years.

In fact, East Tennessee is ranked as one of the worst regions in the United States for asthma sufferers. A report just released by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America named Knoxville as the worst American city for people with asthma. Memphis was rated 6th, Nashville 9th, Johnson City 12th, and Chattanooga 17th.

Masini, who is director/assistant professor of the cardiopulmonary science/respiratory therapist program at East Tennessee State University, has received Asthma Educator - Certified (AE-C) credentialing from the National Asthma Educator Certification Board. He currently assists Dr. Guha Krishnaswamy, Chief of Allergy with ETSU Physicians and Associates – Internal Medicine and the Asthma Education Clinic, and Dr. Ricky Mohon and Dr. Don Samples in the Cystic Fibrosis Clinic at ETSU Physicians and Associates – Pediatrics.

“My job begins after the patient has been diagnosed and treated by a licensed physician or physician extender. The focus of the AE-C is to educate patients about 'asthma triggers' and their medications – how to avoid things that may trigger their asthma, when to use their medicines, how to use them, and how not to use them – so they can enjoy their lives with minimal disruption caused by disease,” Masini said. “Important issues we discuss may include diverse topics such as smokers in the family, relaxation and breathing exercises, the number of pillows that they sleep on, bedding covers, laundry detergents, pets, and environmental issues like heat pumps and air conditioning and how often they change home air filters.

“Patients are seeking information on asthma and their medication. Unfortunately, many turn to the Internet for answers, and much of the data there is misleading or just plain wrong.”

Masini says he customizes a plan for each patient that addresses issues such as the timing of medication before an activity, using a peak flow meter and spacer, how long before bedtime medicine should be taken, and reducing the use of their rescue inhaler. Most patients see him only once or twice a year, and, in these sessions, he discusses their progress, outlines new advances in asthma controller medicines, and records data to provide feedback to the patient, their family, and the primary care physician.

“There are some patients who were taking asthma medicine every four hours that now use long-term asthma controllers one or two times per day after receiving proper treatment and education,” he said. “The training includes use of a peak flow meter, an asthma diary, and the ‘stoplight system.’” In addition to the clinic, Masini frequently conducts community outreach education with coaches, educators, and others who work and interact with asthma sufferers.

Masini notes the Asthma Education Clinic is currently accepting referrals of new patients, and he says that most major insurance companies can be billed for services. For more information about the ETSU Asthma Education Clinic, call (423) 439-7280.



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