September 19, 1997

Innovative clinic links asthma, sinus, allergy treatment

Innovative clinic links asthma, sinus, allergy treatment

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Dr. John Murray (center) and research nurse Hannah Watts Tiblier confer with patient Cliff Goff at VUMC's new asthma, sinus and allergy clinic. (Photo by Donna Marie Jones)

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Olympic track and field star, Jackie Joyner-Kersee will visit VUMC to help dedicate the medical center's new asthma, sinus and allergy clinic. (Photo by Donna Marie Jones)

Vanderbilt University Medical Center next week will unveil its Asthma, Sinus, and Allergy Program (ASAP), a first-of-its-kind clinic devoted to the comprehensive treatment of nasal and airway disease.

Clinic officials are getting some high-speed help in opening the new facility at 2611 West End Ave. Track legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Olympic gold medal winner in the 1988 and 1992 Heptathlon and 1988 gold medal winner in the long jump, will be on hand for the grand opening on Tuesday, Sept. 23. She will discuss overcoming asthma in achieving success and will also take part in opening ceremonies at 4 p.m. in Langford Auditorium. The public is invited to both events.

³The ASAP clinic is the first in the country to house asthma, sinus and allergy specialties under one roof for the evaluation and treatment of people with airway disease,² said Dr. John J. Murray, associate professor of Medicine and Pharmacology and chief operating officer of the ASAP clinic.

³This approach is a lot more efficient for the patient and the physician, since sinus, allergy, and asthma problems are generally linked in some way. It is a multi-specialty approach, which includes all the diagnostic and therapeutic components that would take a patient much longer to sort out on a traditional basis,² said Murray.

VUMC's new ASAP clinic was created to help eliminate the shuffling of patients to different clinics to see different doctors. Warren Brashear, who suffers from allergies, knows about the waiting game. He was sent to several different specialists before he was diagnosed.

³One physician would say I had a sinus infection and send me to someone and then they would send me to someone else. It was not like the doctors were trying to make me wait, but they had to get all the tests done at different places,² said Brashear.

This went on for several months while Brashear was suffering from intense pain in his sinuses. It ended in one day with a visit to the ASAP clinic.

³When I came here, I found out within a day that I am allergic to most of the world, including trees, grass, and dust,² said Brashear.

The diagnostic services available at the ASAP clinic include:

€ CT scanning, which allows the patient¹s sinuses to be examined for potential problems.

€ Allergy testing to determine the cause of allergy symptoms.

€ Pulmonary function testing, performed to determine how well air is getting into the patient's lungs, how well the patient¹s lungs use the air breathed, and how well air is expelled from the lungs.

€ Endoscopic examination, which provides a closer examination of the patient's sinus and nasal cavities using a small scope inserted into the patient's nose.

€ Chest x-rays, which can help determine whether abnormalities in the lungs could affect the patient's breathing disorder.

These types of testing services allow physicians to understand the patient's airway problems in a way that may not be possible when the patient is seen by several different physicians in different clinics.

Once a problem is diagnosed, a treatment regimen can be prescribed. A record of the visit is immediately sent to the patient¹s primary care physician, a system of information sharing that is crucial to the patient's well being.

³The program is designed to work with referring physicians so that they will understand their patient's condition and what has been prescribed for that condition,² said Murray. ³We can do in several hours what would normally take months to do."

Murray hopes the new clinic will see 30 patients a day once it is up to full speed. The current staff includes nasal sinus disease specialists, asthma specialists, allergists, nurse practitioners, and medical technicians. Members of the clinic's medical staff in addition to Murray include Dr. James P. Bracikowski, assistant professor of Medicine, Dr. James A. Duncavage, associate professor of Otolaryngology, and Dr. S. Bobo Tanner IV, assistant professor of Medicine.

The clinic anso includes a paperless, computerized medical record management system intended to facilitate outcome analysis, and an affiliated clinical research program to give patients the chance to participate in the latest investigational studies of their diseases.

The ASAP clinic is managed by BreatheAmerica Inc., which is partially owned by VUMC. The Vanderbilt ASAP clinic will serve as the flagship clinic of a national network of similar airways disease facilities.