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Respiratory workshop scheduled

March 31, 2011
By Jimmy Mincin,

It's time to learn some respiratory health.

The Blair County Respiratory Society will conduct its annual asthma and allergy workshop from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday in Magee Lecture Hall at Altoona Regional Health System, Altoona Campus (6th floor).

Area specialists and pharmaceutical representatives responsible for manufacturing medications will meet and speak with the public in numerous workshops focusing on asthma and allergy triggers, what to do when they occur and how to avoid future episodes. The doctors will present a roundtable discussion, followed by numerous individual sessions and a final question and answer period. Displays from participating sponsors will be visible throughout the day.

There is no registration fee for participants and their families to attend.

"It's a collaboration of many people - myself and the doctors. We've been doing this for about 15 years, and every year I learn something new," said Betsy Hurst, the society's executive director. "I always like to stress that we have such a great team of physicians in this area and the fact that they give an evening of their time. And we're thankful to the hospital for giving us the space to do this."

This year's presenters include Dr. Jeffrey Rosch, a board certified asthma/allergy specialist at Blair Medical Center, Altoona; Dr. Michael Prematta, a board certified asthma/allergy specialist with Central Pennsylvania Asthma and Allergy Care; Dr. Timothy Lucas, board certified pulmonologist with Altoona Lung Associates; and Dr. George Zlupko, board certified pulmonologist with Altoona Lung Associates.

Fact Box

If you go

What: The Blair County Respiratory Society presents its annual asthma and allergy workshop

When: 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Magee Lecture Hall at Altoona Regional Health System, Altoona Campus (6th floor)

Admission: Free

More information: Call 944-8222 or visit

Charlotte Ames, health reporter at WTAJ, will serve as moderator.

"Everything about this makes for a great night. It's a great educational experience," Hurst said.

The workshops follow:

n 6:15 to 7 pm - Pediatric asthma and allergy, Rosch; sleep apnea, Luca.

n 7:30 to 8:15 pm - COPD awareness, Zlupko; asthma and allergy, Prematta.

n 8:15 to 9 p.m. - Roundtable questions/answers.

"Lung disease in general is an extremely common and important disease category in the United States," Zlupko said. "For example, COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S., and asthma affects more than 20 million people in the U.S., accounting for a significant amount of suffering and expense. What we find, in medical practice, is that many people don't really understand what these diseases are all about. Programs like this help to fill in the gap and make for better patients and better patient outcomes."

Rosch also commented on the importance and significance of the workshops.

"This has been a central Pennsylvania institution now for years, and it's certainly the largest [program], as far as we know, in the state that's strictly devoted asthma and COPD for both kids and adults," he said. "It continues to be very well attended ever since its inception. This is something that we've utilized to make available [to the public] the most updated info about asthma and allergies."

He noted the significance of being able to speak face-to-face with pharmaceutical representatives.

"Those companies are kind of a nebulous entity to many people. This makes them more personable," he said.

Hurst put it simply.

"Education is the key to managing any chronic disease," she said. "If you attend, I guarantee you'll learn something."

Mirror Staff Writer Jimmy Mincin is at 946-7460.

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