June 30, 2014

Chicago marks highest mold count for 2014 season

MELROSE PARK, Ill. (June 30, 2014) – At 45,000, today’s Gottlieb Allergy Count for mold spores is very close to the 50,000 threshold for a “dangerous” air quality alert.

“The extreme humidity coupled with the hot temperatures and rain have created a soupy environment that is causing serious distress for those with mold allergies and asthma,” said Joseph Leija, MD, who performs the Gottlieb Allergy Count, the official count of the Midwest. “It’s like having a hot, wet towel over your face all the time for many with sensitive systems. Difficulty breathing, itchy throat, coughing and fatigue will be what Chicagoans feel today and possibly for the rest of the week."

Today’s Gottlieb Allergy Count was: trees - low,  mold - high, grass - low and weeds - low. Today’s mold count is the highest since the tracking began in March.

Dr. Leija said those with sensitive systems should protect themselves from outside allergens.

“Stay inside,  run the air conditioning and above all, take your allergy medication,” said Dr. Leija, who with the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology, created the Gottlieb Allergy Count more than two decades ago. “If you must go outside, keep the car windows up and the air conditioning on. Rinse your nose with saline solution and wash your hair before sleep to remove trapped spores."

Every weekday morning at 4:30 a.m. Dr. Leija climbs the stairs to the top of a building on the Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus, located just outside Chicago. He collects samples from a scientific pollen-catching machine developed in Britain during World War II to detect poison in the air. The machine records air particles every two minutes during a 24-hour period.

Dr. Leija takes the glass slide with the day’s sample and meticulously identifies and counts every spore under a microscope. He uses an algorithm created by the National Allergy Bureau to arrive at the official allergy count for the Midwest by 7 a.m.

Typical pollen seasons are: Trees from March to May; grass from May to June; weeds and ragweed from mid-August to October and mold all season long, depending on dampness.
“People with respiratory conditions need to know the allergy count early in the morning so they can take the right medication and make adjustments in their routine to improve their health,”  said Dr. Leija,  who delivers the count to the  local media and the public at no charge. “Several broadcast networks and Chicago’s largest newspaper report the Gottlieb Allergy Count daily so I am up at 4 a.m.to get the process started."

Dr. Leija is the only allergist certified by the National Allergy Bureau to report the official allergy count of the Midwest. The Gottlieb Allergy Count is available via Twitter, at Gottliebhospital.org and by calling 1-866-4-POLLEN (476-5536).

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 129,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.