Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Grant Recipient Illustrates the Value of Service

TTUHSC’s Cystic Fibrosis Center and Asthma Clinic make a difference for patients across the region

Jasmine Ximenez

Jasmine Ximenez is no stranger to providing detailed, often difficult patient care. Now, as one of ten individuals across the country recruited to the new LEAPP Cystic Fibrosis Fellowship program, Ximenez gets to expand the reach of cystic fibrosis (CF) providers in west Texas, providing one-of-a-kind clinical care for children and adults with CF. 

“As a new PNP [pediatric primary care nurse practitioner], this program serves as an excellent opportunity to increase my clinical knowledge in caring for patients with CF and expand my role within the CF Center,” said Ximenez. 

While she has been the Cystic Fibrosis Program coordinator for Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC)’s Cystic Fibrosis Center since 2015, Ximenez has always possessed a passion for helping others—especially those with complicated health care needs.

Pursuing opportunities to help others

Long before becoming an instrumental part of the CF Center, Ximenez completed a degree in human development and family studies from Texas Tech University (TTU), whereafter she worked for Women’s Protective Services and the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. 

“I heard stories, time and time again, from clients overwhelmed with the struggle between health and chronic disease management,” Ximenez said. “Those stories inspired me to return to school in pursuit of an RN degree for the opportunity to provide one-on-one care to patients.”

After obtaining an associate degree in nursing from South Plains College, she worked in Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) at UMC. As a bedside nurse she cared for patients, advocated on their behalf and empowered them through education.

It was during her time as a nursing student that Ximenez took care of a CF patient for the first time. 

“It was one of the most challenging two weeks: memorizing 20 medications, port care, handling g-tube feedings, and administering IV therapy,” said Ximenez. “I will never forget the calmness, understanding and patience I was shown by this young woman. She had an outstanding comprehension of her daily medications and disease process. I would later come to find that this is true for so many living with CF.”

Three years later, Ximenez joined the TTUHSC CF Center as the RN staff nurse and program coordinator, where she learned specialized training in pediatric pulmonology from the director of the CF center, Adaobi Kanu, M.D. During this time, her training sparked an enthusiasm to assist children with severe asthma, leading to TTUHSC’s first subspecialty high-risk asthma clinic. 

The high-risk asthma clinic

“I wanted to start the high-risk asthma clinic to meet a need within our community for patients who frequent the ER, urgent care, or hospital due to uncontrolled asthma,” Ximenez said.

According to Ximenez, asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in children and the third ranking reason for hospitalization in children under 15. Witnessing how many children needed particular care in this area, Ximenez completed a National Certification in Asthma Education to provide optimal asthma education for patients and their families.

The high-risk asthma clinic allows patients to access proper step therapy, pulmonary function testing, and asthma education to ensure adherence to asthma therapies. Ximenez clarified that asthma is a chronic disease that can be managed—but it requires multiple modalities and specific instructions for proper adherence.

“We are able to focus on increasing health literacy for our patients to better understand the importance of their daily medications, adherence to therapies and how to handle potential asthma exacerbations,” said Ximenez. 

As a subspecialty clinic, patients are given ample time and education to properly manage their condition. 

“Families are empowered to care for their children and adolescents are eager to control their asthma so they can participate in more daily activities,” Ximenez said.

Recently, Ximenez cared for a seven-year-old patient who had been to the emergency room multiple times throughout the year due to his asthma. After assessing the patient and recommending a new course of treatment, Ximenez set up a follow-up appointment for a few weeks later.

“His mother cried when she informed me he was now playing on a soccer team,” said Ximenez. “It was the first time he participated in sports and the longest period of time he hadn’t needed breathing treatments.”

New opportunities with the CF fellowship

After serving as TTUHSC’s CF program coordinator and pulmonary nurse for four years, Ximenez returned to the School of Nursing for a post-master’s degree in the Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (PNP-PC) program

Once Ximenez graduated from the PNP-PC program in January of 2020, she was able to become an additional provider at TTUHSC’s pediatric pulmonary clinic.

“Dr. Kanu is the sole pediatric pulmonologist in the region, which allowed expansion in her current clinic,” explained Ximenez. 

This year, Ximenez was selected by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation as one of ten individuals who will help maintain a strong CF provider workforce by taking part in the two-year LEAPP Cystic Fibrosis Fellowship. The fellowship requires clinical and didactic work including pathophysiology, genetics, and clinical care for children and adults with CF. 

Another requirement of the program is clinical mentorship. As director for the TTUHSC CF Center, an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, and someone Ximenez has worked with for many years, Dr. Adaobi Kanu was the obvious choice. As they begin the next two years of growth, Ximenez expressed gratitude for her new mentor. 

“Dr. Kanu is my clinical mentor throughout my fellowship for the next two years,” said Ximenez. “I look forward to the excellent learning opportunities under her expertise so that I may serve our patients in the most effective way possible.”

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