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SLU Nursing Expert Helps St. Louis Kids Breathe Easier While Managing Asthma


As a young nurse, Deborah Loman, Ph.D., cared for children with asthma, many of whom experienced asthma attacks leading to hospitalizations where they were placed in plastic tents with humified air and oxygen over their beds. Already frightened by their difficulty breathing, the children would become more distressed as they were treated in a “a cage with foggy air.”

Deborah Loman, Ph.D.

Deborah Loman, Ph.D., APRN, works with students and other health care professionals to help kids with asthma breathe better. Submitted photo

Determined to help children with asthma better control their condition, and to avoid a trip to the hospital, Loman, now associate professor of nursing at Saint Louis University’s Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing, is working with colleagues and students to help St. Louis kids breathe more easily.

“Many young children have the responsibility for taking their asthma medications on a regular basis and avoiding asthma triggers at home and school,” Loman said. “It’s great to be involved with a program that focuses on supportive care since asthma is a leading cause of school absenteeism as well as emergency room visits.”

Loman is part of a team of regional nursing experts working with the Healthy Kids Express Asthma (HKEA) Program.

The program was originally developed by nurses at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in 2004 to provide asthma education to children, parents, school nurses, and teachers. Loman, who has been involved with HKEA since 2007, helped to develop the initial data base that could be used to track the program’s desired outcomes. In addition to attending team meetings, Loman also works with the HKEA asthma team in evaluating the ways the program is positively impacting St. Louis kids with asthma and their families.

“Care for children with asthma is evidence based now with a focus on asthma control through education, reduction of asthma triggers, and use of prevention and rescue medication including inhalers,” Loman explained.

The work she said, is a way to carry out SLU’s Jesuit mission to serve others in the spirit of cura personalis.

In the same spirit, Loman teaches in the SLU’s Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program and practices as a volunteer pediatric nurse practitioner in a community clinic serving children. She incorporates case studies in her SLU nursing classes and emphasizes family asthma education in the clinical setting.

Continuing her efforts to bring the next generation of nurses and nurse-practitioners into her work, Loman also encourages nurse practitioner students to spend a day on the HKEA van visiting children in schools to understand asthma care in community.

“Most nursing students have limited experience with school and home management of a chronic health problem so it helps them to understand the challenges that children with asthma have to juggle,” Loman said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Nurse Midwives,” in order to highlight the need for increased numbers of nurses and midwives worldwide. As part of the year’s celebrations, and to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of famed nursing advocate Florence Nightingale, the University is telling the stories of SLU nurses who impact communities on and beyond campus through their teaching, outreach and research in a limited special series.

Story by Amelia Flood, University Marketing and Communications.