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James W. Mitchell, MD, FAAP
On May 20, 2009 @ 1:44 pm In
A pediatrician, medical director of Health Works of Cook County and Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of Chicago.
Dr. Mitchell has been on numerous advisory boards with the goal of improving health care for children at all levels. Practicing in a community office setting has offered him an important perspective for a physician trained at an institution with a strong research tradition. Physicians in the University arena are not only taught to render care, but they are encouraged to be problem solvers. To that end, Dr. Mitchell has addressed areas of medicine he has considered problematic.
For the past 16 years, Dr. Mitchell has been involved with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. In his work with Health Works of Cook County, he manages policy issues regarding access to care and quality of care for the thousands of children who are wards of the state in Cook County, including ensuring that foster children are seen by the most qualified physicians available. He has also developed many teaching tools for these physicians.
Dr. Mitchell has a strong clinical interest in children’s asthma. In addition to providing care to many asthma patients in his practice, Dr. Mitchell continues to focus on education about asthma to families, teachers and physicians. He has participated in numerous projects from grassroots organizations to national publications to improve understanding of asthma in children.
As a respected member of the medical community, Dr. Mitchell has been an invited guest television panelist for both local and national programs, offering his perspective on healthcare policy as well as promising medical developments. He has also participated in numerous career day forums for Chicago Area Schools, served as a guest speaker at local churches and has been noted for his work as a mentor and role model for African American youth.
A native of Chicago, Dr. Mitchell received his bachelors of Arts degree in Biology from Northwestern University, his medical degree from Rush Medical College in Chicago and completed his internship and residency in general pediatrics at the University of Chicago. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Dr. Mitchell’s statement:
I have been practicing on the South side of Chicago as a pediatrician for over 20 years. I am not an allergist or asthma specialist, but I have made asthma detection and management a special area of focus for my practice.
We have the tools to treat asthma well:
Despite these impressive tools, we still do not have comparable improvements in reducing death and suffering or disability secondary to asthma in all American children.
Remember, deaths due to asthma in children are almost always preventable. Death and disability from asthma generally occur from inadequate diagnosis, underestimation of the seriousness of the disease, poor understanding of severity and the potential dangers of the disease at any level whether it has been called mild, moderate or severe, and insufficient follow through and self management of the disease. The problem is not one of needing “bigger” asthma tools, but rather, maximizing the use of the tools we already have.
In many instances, health insurers restrict access to therapies, which forces physicians to “settle for” products we may feel are inferior or less desirable in some circumstances. We need better access to all therapies.
I am a firm believer that the appropriate treatment can make a tremendous difference in the lives of asthmatic children, their families, and even our use of health care resources.
I have seen asthmatic children dramatically improve once they were able to follow an effective asthma management plan, but I have also seen the impact of better asthma management at a broader level within my practice. Before our group was consistently following recommendations for asthma management, we hospitalized approximately 100 children each year with a diagnosis of asthma. After instituting better treatment methods, our collective cases of asthma hospitalizations were reduced to less than 10 per year, and the majority of these remaining cases had discontinued the medical plan from the physician.
All these points indicate to me that improving health outcomes for American children with asthma is a very realistic goal. We must focus on a strategy that includes improving asthma education, enhancing physicians’ mastery of the diagnosis and management of asthma, and providing full access to appropriate management tools for all of our asthmatic children.
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