Building for Health: Peace of Mind for Emily and Family

The Quintero family of Manchester, Connecticut is breathing much easier these days after the Building for Health program fixed hazards in their home and provided support for their daughter’s worsening asthma symptoms.

Building for Health: The Quintero Family’s Experience

The Quintero family connected to Building for Health through the State of Connecticut’s Putting on AIRS asthma education program and has since connected to other partners in the program. The family reached out to Putting on AIRS for help after noticing their 6-year-old daughter Emily’s asthma symptoms were getting worse. They were concerned about Emily’s health and the health of their two other children, 4-year-old Daniel and newborn Luna.

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“Putting on AIRS was extremely helpful,” says Johana Sanchez, Emily Quintero’s mother. “We received virtual training on inhaler use and follow up calls to check on my daughter’s health. They recommended we go see an allergist and he was very helpful as well. They also helped me get special allergen-free sheets for my daughter’s bed.”  

In addition to providing asthma education, the Putting on AIRS team discovered mold in the family’s basement, which is one of the hazards they are trained to look for through Building for Health. Putting on AIRS helped the family apply for additional help through Connecticut Children’s Healthy Homes Program (Healthy Homes), which is another Building for Health partner.  

To remediate the mold issue, the Healthy Homes team removed and replaced a stand up shower in the basement bathroom. They also replaced several moldy drop ceiling tiles, damaged insulation in the ceiling and walls, and a leaky hatchway that allowed water to seep into the basement. In addition to the mold remediation, the team installed a carbon monoxide detector in the family’s dining room and installed window safety guards and window screens in second floor windows to prevent falls.  

“We are extremely happy and grateful because Healthy Homes allowed us to have the mold issues in our basement that led to our daughter’s asthma flare-ups resolved,” says Johana. “We can now have peace of mind that our home is safe for all our children.”

Through Building for Health, the family has also connected with a weatherization program run by HE Energy Solutions, which plans to do an energy audit to identify ways to increase energy efficiency in the house to reduce heating and energy expenses and create a healthier environment.

How Building for Health Helps Families

Building for Health launched in 2019 to increase collaboration between the housing, health and energy sectors with the goal of improving the overall health of children and families living in Hartford, Connecticut. Created by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the initiative has since expanded to other communities and has engaged more than 120 families throughout Connecticut.

The initiative’s collaborative efforts have made a substantial impact on residents – reducing exposure to lead and asthma triggers, reducing injury risks, reducing fire and carbon monoxide risks, and enhancing kindergarten readiness for young children by eliminating toxins known to cause developmental delays and long-term cognitive challenges.

“The support for the Quintero family is exactly what Building for Health was designed to do: connect residents to an array of free services that improve their health, safety, and comfort, and potentially reduce energy costs for the long term,” said Jim Horan, LISC Connecticut’s Executive Director.

Building for Health offers a no-wrong-door approach for families to ensure they can easily access the services they need to live healthier lives, regardless of what sector such services fall in. Partners in the initiative include Healthy Homes, Putting on AIRS, the Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance, HE Energy Solutions and various utilities that provide weatherization and energy efficiency services for homes.

Once a family contacts any Building for Health partner for help, their experts not only address the initial concern, but also look for additional health hazards. They utilize a One Touch referral platform to easily connect families to other Building for Health partners that can address those added concerns. The approach eases the burden for families so they can make their homes healthier without having to locate multiple resources on their own.

In addition to remediating lead, the most common home repairs done at Building for Health properties during the initiative’s first two years included installing window guards, ventilation fans and range hoods; repairing damaged flooring; and replacing unsafe stair railings. Also during that timeframe, weatherization vendors installed new LED lighting, insulation and windows; implemented water-saving measures; provided air duct sealing, assessed and replaced appliances, installed new insulation, and replacing outdated thermostats.

“Emily and her family’s experience with the Building for Health initiative clearly shows the validity of the ‘no wrong door’ approach to making homes safe and energy efficient for families across Connecticut,” says Chris Corcoran, manager of Connecticut Children’s Healthy Homes Program. “Because of the Building for Health interventions, Emily will be far less likely to require emergency medical care, which is very stressful for children, and will hopefully be able to laugh and play like most 6-year olds. Through Building for Health, we look forward to creating healthier living environments for many other families.”

Building for Health: A Healthy Future

The Building for Health initiative plans to continue expanding to serve additional families across the state in the coming years. After connecting with Building for Health, the Quintero’s say they have already seen a difference in their oldest daughter’s health.

“We have noticed Emily has needed her inhaler and nebulizer a lot less now that the work has been done,” says Johana. “We know our home is a safe place to raise our children.”

If you would like more information about the Connecticut Children’s Healthy Homes Program or Building for Health, click here.

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