LeRoy Graham, MD, FCCP
When it comes to managing our health, knowledge is power.
The Not One More Life program—led by pediatric pulmonologist and American College of Chest Physicians Fellow, LeRoy Graham, MD, FCCP,—is empowering communities across the country.
Nearly 10 years ago, Dr. Graham had a very special patient named Kellen Bolden who, despite being a 10-year-old boy with asthma, managed his asthma very well. As Kellen’s physician, Dr. Graham came to realize that what helped Kellen manage so well was not his skill and expertise as a doctor but the engaged community that surrounded Kellen. Kellen’s parents, teachers, neighbors, and friends, and even his school bus driver, all had an awareness of his asthma.
When Kellen’s family moved to a new area, that same community no longer surrounded them. One morning, Kellen went to school after taking his regular treatment. He was unusually quiet and didn’t want to go outside for recess, but people didn’t make much of his behavior. Kellen collapsed while at school, and although he was rushed to the hospital, he sadly died later that day. “No one can ever be sure how things would have played out,” said Dr. Graham, “But I’m confident the day would have gone differently if Kellen had been in his old environment.”
Two years later, in 2003, Dr. Graham started Not One More Life in Atlanta, GA. Powered by the inspiration of Kellen’s life and the recognized value of building awareness, Not One More Life is an asthma education program that partners with faith communities to address health disparities.
Participants in the Not One More Life program receive free lung testing and have their results reviewed by a board-certified lung specialist. Participants receive a report with their results and recommendations for following up with a primary care physician to treat conditions like asthma and COPD. By arming participants with this information, Not One More Life puts them on the path of managing their conditions.
Not One More Life follows up with participants to learn about the results of their doctor visits, and the organization works to address challenges related to finding treatment and paying for prescription drugs. Not One More Life even runs a free clinic once a month in Atlanta, which is staffed by Dr. Graham and other pulmonary specialists.
Not One More Life emphasizes empowerment and the right to good health care. “When people buy a flat screen television, they do research, comparison shop, and learn all of the terminology, so they can get the best deal in the store,” said Dr. Graham. “But so many people walk into their doctor’s office with little information and have a nondirective encounter. People need to be actionable partners in their health care.”
Dr. Graham suggests that taking responsibility for your health begins with good doctor-patient communication. You should ask your doctor for a diagnosis and a clearly written treatment plan. You should also leave their doctor’s office with a good understanding of your medications and more affordable options, if needed, such as generics or samples.
To date, Not One More Life has screened more than 6,000 people and has implemented its services in cities such as St. Louis, Missouri; Detroit, Michigan; and Long Island, New York. The program is a 2004 recipient of a pro bono community service award from The CHEST Foundation of the American College of Chest Physicians. For information about Not One More Life, visit www.notonemorelife.org.