Respiratory Health Association trains health educators outside Chicago in its two signature programs, Courage to Quit®, an evidence-based program to help people (particularly members of populations vulnerable to tobacco) quit smoking, and Fight Asthma Now©, RHA’s asthma self-management course for school-aged children. National Urban League® hires RHA to train tobacco program staff from Atlanta, Philadelphia and Washington, and Breathe DC hires RHA to teach asthma educators in Washington D.C. how to deliver Fight Asthma Now© (RHA had previously trained personnel in Los Angeles Unified School District in the program). During 2016, RHA’s smoking cessation and asthma programs reach 5,000+ people.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awards Respiratory Health Association $11.5 million to a lead a citywide effort to reduce smoking in Chicago and increase smoke-free environments (such as parks, etc.). The Chicago Tobacco Prevention Partnership partners with 30+ organizations to address the needs of Chicago’s many vulnerable populations (e.g., veterans, certain minorities, hospitality workers) who smoke at rates in excess of Chicago’s average. Chicago’s youth and adult smoking rates subsequently drop to historic lows.
In response to the nation’s H1N1 bird flu outbreak, Chicago Department of Public Health enlists Respiratory Health Association to administer bird flu immunizations at one of the citywide sites the City established. RHA administers 3,061 bird flu immunizations to help contain the bird flu outbreak.
Respiratory Health Association and Cook County Health and Hospital Systems launch Healthy Lungs Initiative, a multi-year $6 million program to improve lung health among Cook County residents by increasing quit smoking rates and improving self-management skills for people with asthma or COPD. In the ensuing eight years, RHA’s trained staff deliver smoking cessation assessments and asthma management tips to more than 124,000 residents of Cook County.
RHA ends its long affiliation with a national lung health non-profit organization, deciding to maintain its local board of directors and governance structure and its focus on meeting the lung health needs of local communities in Illinois and the Midwest. RHA board votes unanimously to rename itself Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. RHA subsequently develops programs and initiatives to support the lung health needs of urban multi-cultural communities. Funds raised by RHA are used locally, and not used to support a national organization structure.
Illinois becomes the first state to adopt a State COPD Plan developed through a statewide coalition. The aim of the Plan is to reduce COPD-related morbidity and mortality and improve the quality of life of people in Illinois living with COPD. RHA served as convener of the coalition and amassed a broad group of COPD stakeholders to serve on the coalition, including community agencies, health departments, respiratory societies, physical therapy, patients, caregivers, health care providers, and home health care providers.
In recognition that lung cancer continues to be the leading cancer killer of men and women, Respiratory Health Association reaffirms its commitment to local lung cancer research by making a $160,000 lung cancer research award to researchers at the University of Chicago. In the ensuing years, lung cancer research grants are awarded to researchers at other local academic centers, including Northwestern University, Rush University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Respiratory Health Association hosts its first annual Living Better Together COPD Conference for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (“COPD”) patients and their caregivers. The educational conference shares with patients a variety of resources and tips for managing their COPD. Living Better Together is the largest such COPD patient gathering in the US.
Chicago City Council enacts Smoke-Free Chicago ordinance, prohibiting smoking in all workplaces throughout Chicago, including offices, restaurants and bars. The smoke-free ordinance is considered one of the most important local public health measures in decades. Once enacted, the Smoke-Free Chicago Ordinance (and similar ordinances adopted by surrounding Chicago suburbs) propels a successful effort to pass statewide smoke-free legislation in Illinois. Respiratory Health Association plays a key role in meeting with policymakers and leading a grass-roots advocacy effort in support of the smoke-free ordinances in Chicago, Skokie, Wilmette, Elk Grove Village, Oak Park, Deerfield, Evanston, and Highland Park, among others.
Merck Childhood Asthma Network awards Respiratory Health Association, in collaboration with University of Illinois School of Public Health, a four-year $2 million grant to address pediatric asthma in Chicago’s Englewood community. The project aims to teach parents and caregivers of children with asthma in Englewood how to better understand and control asthma, reducing hospitalizations and school days missed. The project is credited with significantly reducing asthma emergency room visits among children from Englewood.