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Girl Scout to hold free chronic obstructive pulmonary disease screenings Monday

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Olivia Bernard wants to make sure Augusta breathes easy.

Olivia Bernard, 14, holds a spirometer she will use to test people for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for her Girl Scout Gold Award project. She became interested because her mother is a respiratory therapist and her grandfather has COPD.   ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
Olivia Bernard, 14, holds a spirometer she will use to test people for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for her Girl Scout Gold Award project. She became interested because her mother is a respiratory therapist and her grandfather has COPD.

The rising sophomore at Aquinas High School will conduct free screenings for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a condition that affects the airways and causes shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing.

Olivia, 14, has researched the disease while working toward her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can earn. Her mother and troop leader, Arlene Bernard, works as a respiratory therapist at Doctors Hospital, and her grandfather has COPD.

“I’ve seen the effects of it, so I don’t want that to happen to anybody else,” she said.

On Monday, participants in the screening will answer a short questionnaire. Those showing some signs of COPD will breathe into a device for a spirometry test. Results can be taken to their doctor.

“They blow as hard as they can into a machine. It measures different things about your airways,” Olivia said.

Two respiratory therapists will be available to answer questions at the screening at the Wilson Family Y. The screening takes just a few minutes, and no more than 100 people can be tested.

The leading cause of COPD is smoking, but Bernard said exposure to chemicals in a workplace or secondhand smoke can also contribute to the disease.

“The No. 1 preventative method is to quit smoking or just don’t start smoking at all,” she said.

IF YOU GO

Girl Scout Olivia Bernard will conduct free screenings for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

WHAT: DRIVE4COPD

WHEN: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday

WHERE: Wilson Family Y, 3570 Wheeler Road


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