Primomo is Primo on Public Health

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Janet Primomo is a founding faculty member of the Nursing program. She maintains that community engagement is in the DNA of the program. “The fact that we are a registered-nurse-to-bachelor’s program means the curriculum is geared toward community health, public health and working with families in the community.”

Asthma care and prevention is one area where Janet has made her mark. Since 1997 she’s been involved with the Puget Sound Asthma Coalition, formerly called Clean Air for Kids, securing funding for in-home consultations, training caregivers and evaluating outcomes.

“Asthma is a significant public health problem, disproportionately affecting low-income and minority groups. Treating it is complex,” she says. Treatments in medical offices have to be supplemented by efforts to reduce exposure to triggers in the home, at school and in the community.

Janet’s efforts have led to increased funding for “asthma outreach workers,” who conduct home visits to families of children with asthma, counseling them on ways to minimize asthma triggers.

Janet has also been involved with research on the relationships between asthma and particulate matter pollution, such as wood smoke. The South Puget Sound region is particularly susceptible to high levels of this kind of pollution, which can trigger asthma attacks and may result in other chronic respiratory diseases. Local residents are made aware of these issues every time local governments issue “burn bans,” meant partly to reduce the public health impacts of particulate matter pollution.

Janet has helped inspire high school students by bringing them to a summer Nurse Camp at UW Tacoma, in partnership with MultiCare. And she’s helped bring health care to low income people by designing a chronic-disease clinic at area food banks. Her work on all these public health issues takes its place among the best of UW Tacoma’s community engagements.

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June 17, 2013