CHEST Grant Recipient Making a Difference in Guyana

CHEST Foundation staff met with 2017 CHEST Foundation Community Service grant winner, Sharon Armstead, RRT, Director of Clinical Education & Clinical Assistant Professor for the Department of Respiratory Care at Texas State University to understand the impact of her community service award.

Ms. Armstead’s program takes respiratory care students from her institution on a study abroad trip to Guyana with aims to educate Guyanese student populations about asthma and teach them self-management skills. Additionally, she and her students work alongside clinicians at Georgetown Public Hospital to host a mobile asthma clinic that provides asthma screenings and education for Guyanese students, the first of its kind at Texas State University.

photo of Sharon Armstead

“This CHEST Foundation grant opened doors for me that had never been opened before.”

– Sharon Armstead, RRT

As an opportunity to understand how our supporters feel about this program and the impact this grant is having on Ms. Armstead, her students, and the community they serve in Guyana, our foundation staff sat down with Mike Nelson, MD, FCCP, Past President of the CHEST Foundation and former chair of the Community Service Work Group, to gain his perspective.

“As a community physician, I support the programs for clinical research and patient education and have always been a strong proponent of the D. Robert McCaffree Community Service Awards. The work of Sharon Armstead and her team in Guyana provides an excellent example as to why these awards are critical to other clinicians gaining valuable experience and how their care directly impacts patient outcomes in a community of high unmet need.”

Group photo of medical professionals in Guyana

Ms. Armstead’s passion for supporting clinics in Guyana stems from a deeply personal place. “Guyana is my country of birth. I left when I was 14. I came back many years later realizing that I can give back to the country that gave me so much.”

“This CHEST Foundation grant opened doors for me that had never been opened before. Members of the community were very open to hearing what we had to say and receptive to the changes we suggested they make in their daily lives. The financial portion of the award allowed me to purchase additional spirometers for the asthma clinic, allowing for a whole new level of outpatient testing and outreach in the community,” Ms. Armstead noted.

School children in Guyana hold a sign reading 'thank you CHEST Foundation!'

Dr. Nelson continued, ”The impact that Ms. Armstead and her team has on the people of Guyana cannot be underestimated. One might believe that few will experience the benefit of her educational efforts, but each person she teaches will share this knowledge with their colleagues, and patient care will be improved throughout the community…and country. I see this as an extremely important and easy way to further lung health in areas of the United States and the world that don’t have the same access to health-care services. Certainly, this is worth our support. Please join me and my wife in supporting the programs of the CHEST Foundation. Like us, I know that you will feel personal gratification in the knowledge that you have made a difference in the lives of others.”

Your support is essential to providing early career clinicians with the research funds needed to launch their careers, creating patient education resources that help bridge the gap between patients and clinicians and advancing our mission to create healthier communities and save lives. Donate to the CHEST Foundation today!