Helping Community Residents Breathe Easier | MedStar Health

Helping Community Residents Breathe Easier

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Geri Feaster-Bethea

Pictured above is Geri Feaster-Bethea, health coordinator at Israel Baptist Church.

Respiratory Wellness Program

In partnership with the Leadership Council for Healthy Communities (LCHC), an organization of faith leaders, health professionals and community leaders who promote healthy communities through comprehensive programs and services in the Washington, D.C., region, MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s Respiratory Wellness Program has provided more than 2,000 D.C. residents with preventive and self-management education, health screenings and linkage to care.

The Respiratory Wellness Program addresses health disparities related to respiratory diseases among African American and other minority populations in D.C. through:

  • Health education: Educating D.C. residents about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma prevention and management
  • Health screenings: Screening residents for COPD and asthma
  • Resource linkage: Creating a resource guide to care for residents living with respiratory conditions

Gail Drescher, a clinical specialist in Pulmonary Services at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, said that the program is a way of partnering with the community to provide important health resources to individuals affected by respiratory diseases.

“You get to know the residents in a different way when you go out to where they live and worship,” she explains.

In its efforts to help minorities eliminate health disparities and promote healthy communities through comprehensive programs, MedStar’s Respiratory Wellness Program team provides training to leaders from 25 faith-based institutions in the D.C. region. After receiving MedStar’s evidence-based training surrounding COPD and asthma, the faith leaders shared their new knowledge about these conditions with their communities and congregations.

More than 2,900 people have been educated through workshops using MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s curriculum, and nearly 300 residents have been screened for COPD and asthma at health fairs since the program began in 2015.

“Knowledge is a first step in helping people try to manage their disease better,” says Sullivan Robinson, executive director at LCHC.


Program participants routinely stated that they began applying what they had learned to better manage their respiratory conditions and became more aware of the risk factors of developing such diseases.

“One member in my senior group told me she got a nicotine patch after attending the program session at my church,” said Geri Feaster-Bethea, health coordinator at Israel Baptist Church.

For more information about the Respiratory Wellness Program or the Leadership Council for Healthy Communities, visit

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To learn more about MedStar Health's programs and initiatives across Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region that are contributing to healthier communities, contact Raquel Lamptey at 410-772-6910