Background

One in four children ages 5–17 years in Alameda County have asthma. Hospitalization rates for asthma in Alameda County is among the highest of the 58 counties in California. Rates of asthma hospitalization were highest among children from birth to 4 years of age. West Oakland has large African-American population that is disproportionately affected by asthma.

Local kids playing.West Oakland is a community affected by severe air pollution from the intersection of multiple highways, trucking and shipping in the area. 10,000 diesel trucks per day move in and out of the Port of Oakland as well as diesel emissions from ships going into and out of the Port, as well as non-vehicular diesel emissions from construction site in and around the area. In addition substandard housing contributing to mold, pest infestation (rodents and roaches), and secondhand smoke are significant factors also. Poverty is a contributor, 71% have incomes less than $30,000 and poor education (45% of residents 25 years and older do not have high school diplomas). Access to health care, and especially access to asthma specialists are also major barriers.

A survey of providers serving patients in this community shows that only one health care provider is located in the heart of West Oakland. This institution lacks an Allergist, a Pulmonologist, and a pulmonary function laboratory. Because of this, most asthma patients must seek outside medical assistance. Over 70% of residents in West Oakland are covered by MediCal, the remaining 30% have no coverage at all. The demographic composition of West Oakland is 64% African Americans, 16% Latinos, 9% Asian/Pacific Islanders.

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