The Bridges Global Medical Mission, in collaboration with Texas State University, is currently conducting a medical outreach in Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) for persons suffering from respiratory illnesses.While the team has been in the community since Sunday, services were offered at the spirometry department of the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC) on Tuesday. The team wrapped up its outreach following another session at the Mackenzie HighRespiratory Therapist, Professor Sharon Armstead speaking with the mediaSchool on Wednesday.It was highlighted by Respiratory Therapist, Professor Sharon Armstead that there has been an increase in patients seen this year for illnesses such as asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) when compared to a similar outreach, which was hosted in the community in 2018.“This year, I believe the patients doubled because of the advertisement,” Armstead noted. With Linden known for mining bauxite, Armstead, who herself has been diagnosed with asthma, said it was important for initiatives such as these to be carried out in the community.“I personally am an asthmatic and when I come to Linden, I have to go on special medication to breathe here. And I think the reason we’re testing Linden is because of the bauxite. We want to know, because of the surroundings here – the dust … does that increase the asthma here in Linden? We have not finished the testing; we’re still pulling data, but I think Linden for me- the wheezing when patients come here, the increase of patients here – I believe it does affect the patients here,” she added.As such, she believes that the community needs to open up its own clinic, even if it is once a month. While the LHC has a spirometry department, it has reportedly been inoperable for some time.Nevertheless, she emphasised the need for proper diagnosis and treatment, noting that there was only one way to diagnose – that is by use of a spirometer.As such, she explained that there should be referrals to the spirometry clinic by doctors and nurses who suspect that patients are asthmatic or have COPD. In thisFaculty Member Jenna Mazenec and a student of the Texas State University demonstrating how to test for asthma and COPDway, she related the patients can get a proper diagnosis.This being her seventh mission to Guyana, Armstead said she has worked in the Emergency and Intensive Care Departments here, and asthma, COPD, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and pneumonia are some of the most common respiratory diseases she has seen.Armstead further stated that she was aware of patients visiting hospitals at least two to three times in two weeks to get breathing treatment.“That’s because there’s no education. That’s because there’s no follow-up. So those are the patients that we need to educate. First of all, we need to diagnose, we need to educate and we need to treat. Having this clinic here is priceless for Linden and we must open it,” she reiterated.Meanwhile, Faculty Member of the Respiratory Therapist Programme at Texas State University, Jenna Mazanec said that it has been an eye-opening experience.She noted that the team has spoken to patients extensively on how they can care for themselves and their children while pointing to the lack of education.“With proper education, it can help them or prevent them from coming into the hospital, to manage their asthma from home, and reduce the influx in emergency rooms,” she stressed while also emphasising that the spirometry clinic is absolutely necessary.