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High-Risk Asthma Program

The High-Risk Asthma Program at Lurie Children's takes a multidisciplinary approach to provide comprehensive care for patients with severe, hard to control asthma. Employing a patient-centered approach to care, the program aims to better control the severity of attacks, prevent asthma exacerbations and improve the quality of life for the patient and family. The program's goal is to address treatment barriers and co-occurring conditions that lead to the severity of the disease.

What to Expect

We will work with your family to develop a detailed asthma treatment plan to prevent symptoms and respond to symptoms when they occur. Together, we can identify triggers; develop action plans to avoid triggers; and create response plans to treat asthma flare-ups. Once your child has been diagnosed with asthma, your child's physician will prescribe medications to control their symptoms. This plan may change over time as your child grows and changes.

Meet the Team

Our pulmonary medicine physicians collaborate with other specialties, such as allergy, to provide the highest-quality care to children with asthma. Our integrated team of physicians, pediatric nurse practitioners and pediatric nursing staff seamlessly coordinate to provide care and treatment plans. The program consists of two pediatric pulmonologists, a pulmonary APN, a pediatric allergist, two pediatric nurses, a social worker, a respiratory therapist, and an administrative coordinator. 

The High-Risk Asthma Program at Lurie Children's is led by Avani V. Shah, MD, Attending Physician, Pulmonary Medicine. Dr. Shah is board-certified in pediatric pulmonology and pediatrics.

Avani V. Shah, MD

Attending Physician, Pulmonary Medicine

Emily R. Simmons, APRN-NP, CPNP-PC

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Pulmonary Medicine; Clinical Director, High Risk Asthma Clinic; Clinical Director, Mobile Asthma Clinic

Maria L. Dowell, MD

Interim Division Head, Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine; Director, Cystic Fibrosis Center

Sai R. Nimmagadda, MD

Attending Physician, Allergy & Immunology


In addition to providing excellent clinical care, the program leads a research project to evaluate the effectiveness of the multidisciplinary approach with a focused interest on the admission rates, re-admission rates, ED visits and changes in the lung function over time. Through the generation of a patient registry, the High-Risk Asthma Team is focused on improving asthma care for all children with asthma throughout the region. The team also received grant funding to address disparities in asthma care through an internal grant through Patrick M. Magoon Institute for Healthy Communities. 

Asthma Mobile Unit

The Lurie Children's Mobile Health Program allows families to receive the same level of multifaceted culturally-informed service from Lurie Children’s physicians and allied health professionals in their neighborhood on a mobile unit, rather than at a brick and mortar facility. 

The Asthma Mobile Unit launched in October 2021, after data showed that a specific patient population never followed through with their referrals. This mobile unit was developed to see patients with all severities of asthma. Targeting a specific neighborhood in the Chicagoland area, Dr. Avani V. Shah and Emily R. Simmons, MSN, APRN-NP, PNP, and their multidisciplinary team see the patients once a month on the unit. Meeting patients in their own communities alleviates many concerns and stressors for families. For many of these families, lack of transportation to the main hospital location and the cost involved with fuel, parking and/or public transportation are challenges. Seeing patients in their own communities also puts families at ease. The end goal is to provide families with options leading to improved asthma care for their children.