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"I noticed my breathing wasn't acting right": Bronx asthma patients say they feel sick from air quality

Bronx asthma patients say they feel sick from air quality
Bronx asthma patients say they feel sick from air quality 02:41

NEW YORK - The Bronx has some of the highest rates of asthma in New York City, and additional pollutants make symptoms that much worse. 

Doctors at the Center for Comprehensive Care at St. Barnabas Hospital say they haven't seen the uptick in asthma patients they expected. But they are hearing from these patients, who say they would rather stay at home and not expose themselves outside to these elements. 

"We haven't seen an uptick in the numbers, but the patients that are coming in are maybe a little sicker," said Dr. David Chong, the Chief Division Pulmonary/Critical Care at St. Barnabas Hospital.

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The waiting room inside St. Barnabas Hospital is unusually quiet. But for Bronx resident Darnella Price, her symptoms couldn't wait any longer.

"I just got a hoarse voice, my lungs is bringing up a lot of mucus, and I'm congested in my nose," said Price.

Price said she's had asthma since she was 17. More intense symptoms first started for her on Tuesday, when the thick haze of smoke began creeping into the borough, causing the sky to turn yellow and foggy.

"I noticed that my breathing wasn't acting right, and if I walk from my building to the corner, I'll be out of breath," said Price.

Price is just one of the few patients visiting the center in person while others are using telehealth appointments to check in with doctors. 

New York City Health reports in 2021 emergency room visits for children with asthma are 20 times higher in certain neighborhoods of the Bronx than other boroughs. Experts say pollution from trucks is a contributing factor, which makes the current haze that much worse.

"I feel like it's getting really trapped, it's actually exacerbating the pollution we already have," said Dr. Chong.

Doctors are expecting an influx of patients to come in for help as this air quality continues to improve.

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