Suffolk County Legislator Susan A. Berland, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Department of Health Services Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott, members of the Legislature and representatives from local public health organizations launched the “Know the Difference” Asthma Education Campaign after resolutions creating the campaign passed the Legislature and were signed into law. To view video from the press conference in its entirety, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgRERYv_iEc&feature=youtu.be
The new law requires all stores that contain a pharmacy in Suffolk County to post the “Know the Difference” poster, which provides patients with vital information regarding the proper use of asthma medications. The poster, developed in conjunction with the Asthma Coalition of Long Island, the Allergy & Asthma Network, the New York State Children’s Environmental Health Centers, the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services displays examples of “rescue” and controller medications. The poster will be available to consumers in English, Spanish and Haitian-Creole, the three most widely spoken languages in Suffolk County.
There are several types of asthma inhalers that are available to consumers. When they are used incorrectly or are accidentally interchanged, poor outcomes may result which include avoidable hospitalization or death. Approximately 50% of adults and 40% of children with asthma do not have control of their asthma and utilizing appropriate medication can significantly improve their condition.
“Given the current public health crisis, it is more important now than ever to launch the “Know the Difference” campaign to help patients understand and control their asthma. Respiratory health is at the forefront of all of our minds and now is the perfect time to act,” said Legislator Susan A. Berland. “The ‘Know the Difference’ campaign will serve as a tool to supplement the vital role that pharmacists play as part of a patient’s healthcare team. Suffolk County has long been a pioneer in affecting monumental change that later leads to regional and even nationwide change. It’s what we’ve done time and time again and it’s what we’re doing now in launching the “Know the Difference” Asthma Education Campaign.”
“When an asthma attack occurs every second matters and this educational measure will go a long way preventing something far more serious from happening,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “I applaud Legislator Berland for her tenacity on this issue and look forward to seeing the posters go up at pharmacies throughout the county.”
“Evidence shows that when quality interventions are offered, asthma self-management education results in an improvement in adherence to therapy in most asthma outcomes,” said Dr. Gregson Pigott, MD, MPH, Commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services. “I applaud Legislator Berland and the Asthma Coalition of Long Island for introducing this legislation, and I thank Suffolk County’s pharmacists in advance for the increasing role they have been playing in keeping our residents well-informed, immunized, and healthy.”
The bill creating the campaign was co-sponsored in a bipartisan fashion by Vice Chairwoman of the Health Committee Legislator Leslie Kennedy, Legislator Jason Richberg and Legislator Sarah Anker.
“I applaud Legislator Berland on this life saving initiative. As a Nurse for 30 years, I have seen what can happen when patients use a Maintenance Inhaler instead of a Rescue Inhaler during an Asthma attack. It can be deadly. Repeated education by MD’s, Nurses and Pharmacists will be assisted by the supplementation of this sign!” said Legislator Leslie Kennedy.
“I am proud to co-sponsor I.R.1318,” said Suffolk County Legislator Jason Richberg. “I feel strongly that displaying educational posters on the proper use of asthma inhalers in pharmacies across Suffolk County is an important initiative that will make a real difference. The saying goes ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ but the image that will be displayed is worth much more, as it will help save lives. I want to thank the resolution’s sponsor, Legislator Susan Berland, for her hard work in ensuring that we as elected officials do everything in our power to keep the public informed and safe.”
“I am proud to be a co-sponsor of this resolution. It’s important that Suffolk County supports the members of our community that have chronic illnesses. The self-management education that will be provided by the posting of these signs will help in reducing the number of hospitalizations and emergency visits related to asthma and inhaler use. During the time of COVID-19 we must keep our residents and community as informed as possible to ensure that we are doing all that we can as a County to protect the health of our residents,” said Legislator Sarah Anker.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the importance of respiratory health and the role community members play in protecting each other," said Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer Rob Calarco. "This educational campaign on the proper use of asthma inhalers will help arm consumers with information that may one day help save a life. I thank Legislator Berland for her advocacy on this issue."
“It is often said that ‘Knowledge is Power’ and with the addition of new signage at Suffolk pharmacies, our County’s asthmatic residents will be better informed and empowered to make decisions most appropriate for their medical situation,” said Deputy Presiding Officer Kara Hahn. “Legislator Berland’s leadership on this issue will undoubtedly lead to improved outcomes for asthma patients and may even save lives.”
“The health and safety of Suffolk County’s residents is always our chief responsibility. The passage of this measure will greatly benefit the wellbeing of our communities,” said Legislator Samuel Gonzalez.
"Knowing the difference between your rescue medication and your controller medication is an important factor in being able to manage asthma, and that knowledge can be lifesaving,” said Anne Little, MPH, Director of Health Promotions for the American Lung Association in New York. “We applaud Legislator Berland and the Suffolk County Legislature for their leadership on this issue."
"Asthma self-management education provides an opportunity to empower people with asthma to live full and active lives,” said Alexandra Kranidis, MPH, Director of the Asthma Coalition of Long Island. “Reaching families at the pharmacy counter is a natural place for this education to take place, and we look forward to working with pharmacists and their teams to make the most of this impactful policy. We, at Asthma Coalition of Long Island, look forward to continuing our work with the Suffolk County legislature and all of Long Island to connect our community in support of every child with asthma."
“Long Island once again leads by example. Trusting that when the consumer is provided with science-based information at many venues in a creative and tailored way, we become engaged, we tend to remember, we gain confidence when we are making critical health decisions. We have already received requests from other municipalities to share these educational posters. Thank you Legislator Berland and all the progressive leaders who believe in educating the consumer,” said Karen Miller, Founder Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition.
Legislator Berland holds almost-identical asthma inhalers, which perform different functions. Poor outcomes including hospitalization and even death can result if asthma medications are interchanged.
(From left) Legislator Rudy Sunderman, Suffolk County Department of Health Services Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott, Dr. Monica Diamond Caravella, Nurse Practitioner Michelle Wruck, Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition Associate Executive Director Melanie Grabell, Legislator Susan Berland, County Executive Steve Bellone, Legislator Samuel Gonzalez and Legislator Jason Richberg. Images taken by the Office of Legislator Susan A. Berland.
The "Know the Difference" Asthma Education Campaign poster.