Photo includes, Kori Ascher, DO and James A. Rowley, MD

Just Breathe Miami is an organization founded by Kori Ascher, DO, to raise funds to support pulmonary disease awareness and education. The goal of the organization is to provide a unique opportunity for medical providers, patients and the community to all come together, connect, and support individuals significantly impacted by pulmonary disease and people who struggle to just breathe.

Dr. Ascher is completing her sleep medicine fellowship training this June at the University of Miami UHealth Sleep Center and an active practicing pulmonary & critical care physician at Jackson Memorial Hospital (JMH) and University of Miami Hospital (UMH). After graduation she will advance to full time faculty at the University of Miami UHealth Sleep Center and UMH/JMH. Dr. Ascher previously completed her internal medicine residency at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

This year, Just Breathe Miami is planning to raise $10,000 for the AASM Foundation by hosting a special event this fall. Dr. Ascher and her organization will be working closely with the University of Miami to engage a broad array of clinicians and local leaders.

“The AASM Foundation and Just Breathe Miami will join forces in order to bring awareness to our population who suffers constantly of sleep disorders which impact their daily activities and disrupt family’s lives,” states Dr. Alexandre Abreu, director of the University of Miami UHealth Sleep Center.

What inspired you to create Just Breathe Miami?

In medicine there are always those memorable patients that will forever stand out in your mind. One of my patients inspired me to be ambitious and make a change in the world. The special patient had advanced pulmonary disease, and sadly this disease is easily overlooked due to symptoms that mimic other diseases. The treatment options for advanced pulmonary disease are limited, and more research is needed to improve quality of life and prolong survival of patients.

Sadly, many of the medications my patients often need are expensive and require mounds of paperwork before insurance will authorize their use. I found it completely unacceptable that this patient was suffering, her disease progressing, and I couldn’t get her the medications indicated for her disease. It was her passing that motivated me to start Just Breathe Miami as a non-profit organization raising awareness of chronic lung diseases to promote early diagnosis and general understanding. I wanted to take the mystery out of these diagnoses so patients, family, friends, loved ones and doctors could all participate in the treatment plan together.

How would you encourage other clinicians to become more involved in their local communities?

If you have an idea, just do it. Starting Just Breathe Miami was somewhat of an arduous task. When I started telling people what I was doing, my peers were not particularly enthusiastic, but I kept moving ahead with engaging the community because I sincerely believe in the cause. Today, Just Breathe Miami has raised almost $20,000 for various medical communities, and I am fortunate to have the support of my colleagues and peers at the University of Miami.

Starting Just Breathe Miami required a lot of phone calls, and a lot of emails. It’s important for clinicians like me to be vocal by communicating with our peers and community in order to get your voice and your message through.

Why are you so passionate about raising funds to support respiratory health and research?

During my training in pulmonary and sleep medicine I encountered a lot of patients that had significantly debilitating diseases that were simply unable to utilize the most efficient treatments due to either lack of proper insight about their disease or lack of resources. These are two obstacles that I have chosen to tackle head on because they are key components to healthy, happy patients. I carried this manner of thinking with me into sleep medicine. I feel so strongly that if I can provide insight into the importance of sleep medicine to the community at large, then many of the setbacks that patients encounter when seeking treatment will be ameliorated.

If anyone would like to get involved or support Just Breathe Miami, Dr. Kori Ascher can be reached directly via email.