Matthew Breathes Easier!


This spring, our Healthy Housing Specialist Jennifer Spiller began working with Luom and her 5-year-old son, Matthew. Matthew’s asthma was causing him to have a lot of sleepless nights from waking up coughing. Luom was already working with Matthew’s doctor and the Asthma Network of West Michigan to control his asthma, and Healthy Homes was invited to assess their home to see if his environment might be worsening his symptoms.

The most obvious asthma triggers in their tidy, well-kept apartment were dampness and mold in one of the bedrooms and in the kitchen. On top of the dampness, the apartment was carpeted–an ideal environment for dust mites that trigger allergies.

Working with Luom and Matthew’s grandmother, Huong, Healthy Homes was able to come up with strategies to reduce Matthew’s exposure to these asthma triggers. Luom and Huong were already in the habit of changing the bedding often and washing away the mold as it grows. Healthy Homes provided them with useful tools such as a dehumidifier to remove the dampness that was feeding the mold and a vacuum with a HEPA filter, mattress covers, and extra sheets to help prevent dust mites.

Support from Spectrum Health – Healthier Communities, the Heart of West Michigan United Way, and individuals donors helped to provide the supplies and the expertise provided by Healthy Homes staff.

Recently, Jennifer followed up to see how Matthew was doing. For the first time since she had started visiting them, the apartment did not feel humid. Huong said that the mold is not growing back like it did before. Matthew has not used his rescue medicine in the past month and he is sleeping through the night. Huong says the difference is obvious: “I can see an improvement in his health. He often used to wake up crying, but now he sleeps through the night and has more energy when he wakes up.”

As she was explaining this, Jennifer was pleased to see that Matthew was noticeably more energetic than she had seen him before. He was playing with his sister, running around and even blowing up balloons with ease. Healthy Homes is pleased that we were able to help Luom and Huong get Matthew’s asthma under control. When children get a good night’s rest, they are able to grow, play and learn to their fullest potential. Some simple tools and family education are the pathways to hope and opportunity for Matthew.