Pulmonary Medicine Updates Fall 2023

October 23, 2023

Larger Innovative Asthma Mobile Clinic Continues to Bring Key Service to Underserved Areas

The newly improved and larger Asthma Mobile Clinic at Lurie Children’s. continues to be a priority at Lurie Children’s ensuring that even more underserved areas in the Chicagoland area can benefit from this convenience and service. Avani V. Shah, MD, and Emily R. Simmons, APRN-NP, PNP, continue to lead this program and mission. 

In Chicago, a 30-year gap in life expectancy exists between the residents living in the highest and lowest resource neighborhoods. Residents of the lowest resource neighborhoods have higher rates of chronic healthcare conditions. They have less access to high quality medical care and services to address their healthcare needs. Improving access to care can make a significant impact on a child and family’s well-being and prevent adverse health outcomes.

Lurie Children’s remains committed to innovative ways to bring our clinical expertise out into the Chicago communities that need it the most.

Through a generous philanthropic donation given to the Division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, now led by Maria Dowell, MD, the Asthma Mobile Clinic launched in October 2021 after data showed that patients from specific geographic areas were unable to attend their appointments in downtown Chicago for asthma care. Through funding provided by the Congressional Directed Spending program with Senator Durbin, the newly improved unit now offers running water, a bathroom, a wheelchair ramp, internet access and multiple clinic rooms, allowing for other clinical specialties to be part of this mobile unit.

Dr. Avani V. Shah and Emily R. Simmons, APRN-NP, PNP and their multidisciplinary team see patients once a month on the unit. Meeting patients in their own communities alleviates many concerns and stressors for families. For many families, lack of transportation to the main hospital location, time for travel and the cost involved with fuel, parking and/or public transportation are often barriers for accessing care, which the mobile clinic alleviates. Seeing patients in their own communities also puts families at ease as they are in a more familiar environment. The end goal is to provide families with easily accessible treatment plans that will then lead to improved asthma care for their children.

Pediatric High-Risk Asthma Program Aims to Conquer Asthma in Chicago

Avani V. Shah, MD The High Risk Asthma Program at Lurie Children's is a multidisciplinary program led by Avani V. Shah, MD, Medical Director, and Emily R. Simmons, MSN, APN, CPNP-PC, Clinical Director.  The program consists of two pediatric pulmonologists,  a pulmonary APN, two pediatric nurses, a social worker, a respiratory therapist, and an administrative coordinator. Unique to this program is a pediatric allergist, Sai R. Nimmagadda, MD, and a pediatric endocrinologist, Jennifer Miller, MD, who assist in addressing comorbid conditions and complications of severe pediatric asthma.  By seeing patients in the High Risk Asthma clinic, they provide care that is more accessible and crucial to our patients' asthma management. 

In addition to providing excellent clinical care, the program has been pursuing research and initiatives to address health disparities in asthma and is a participant of the American Thoracic Society Severe Asthma Consortium.  This consortium involves multiple severe asthma centers across the country who aim to further standardize and enhance the care for pediatric severe asthma nationally.  In addition, the team has received an internal grant through Patrick M. Magoon Institute for Healthy Communities to assist families with barriers to accessing asthma care.  The team also has a partnership with a community health worker program to provide in-home assessments and education.  Finally, the program has launched an Asthma Mobile Clinic which brings comprehensive care to the their patients’ communities, further empowering and instilling trust in their patient population.  Through their multi-disciplinary approach to care, the program has helped control the severity of asthma, prevent asthma exacerbations, and improve the quality of life for children with severe asthma.

Meet the Team: 

Avani V. Shah, MD – Medical Director, High Risk Asthma Clinic; Medical Director, Asthma Mobile clinic and Attending Pediatric Pulmonologist
Maria L. Dowell, MD – Interim Division Head and Attending Pediatric Pulmonologist
Emily R. Simmons, MSN, APN, CPNP-PC – Clinical Director, High Risk Asthma Clinic; Clinical Director, Asthma Mobile Clinic
Sai R. Nimmagadda, MD – Attending Pediatric Allergist
Jennifer Miller, MD – Attending Pediatric Endocrinologist
Lauren Drolet, MSN, RN, CPN, CNL – High Risk Asthma Clinic Coordinator
Alexandra Kacena, RN, APN – High Risk Asthma Nurse
Paige Larson, LSW – Social Worker
Charles Lomack – Clinic Scheduler and Administrative Coordinator