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History

We have been serving Arkansas for over 100 years.

In 1908, the leading cause of death in Arkansas was tuberculosis. It took 3,000 lives each year. To combat the epidemic, physicians of the Arkansas Medical Society and lay people created a voluntary organization to fight tuberculosis. This group was called the Arkansas Tuberculosis (TB) Association.

The campaign to eliminate TB began with public education. Volunteers taught the importance of prevention, early detection, and proper treatment. In 1909, an Act was signed to finance the construction of a TB sanatorium in Booneville, AR. The sanatorium became the biggest in the nation and served thousands of patients.

The TB Association became a pioneer in the field of public health when, in 1913, it employed the first public health nurse in Arkansas. Over the next few years, more nurses were hired to travel the state, diagnosing TB cases and raising public awareness. They also introduced physical inspection to schools and procured the first appropriations by county quorum courts for full-time public health nurses. Because of this, the first permanent tuberculosis clinic in Arkansas was organized.

In 1918, a joint project of the National Tuberculosis Association and the Junior Red Cross began in Arkansas schools. Its purpose was to introduce health programs into an educational setting for the first time. By 1919, 30,000 Arkansas children had received free supplies donated by the Arkansas TB Association.

Until 1938, the Tuberculosis Association provided free TB clinics statewide. At that time, the Division of Tuberculosis Control was set up in the State Department of Health. The Association had reached its goal - the 1939 Arkansas TB death toll fell below 1,000 for the first time. In 1959, 879 cases of TB were discovered and 174 deaths were reported in the state.

As TBís fierce hold on Arkansans was finally loosened, other lung diseases became prominent - emphysema, asthma, chronic bronchitis and lung cancer. In 1967, the association changed its name to the Arkansas Tuberculosis and Respiratory Disease Association to reflect its expanded role in the new struggle for life and breath.

At that time, cigarette smoking was increasing as health officials learned about its life-threatening dangers. The Association discouraged smoking through educating the public about lung health and emphysema. In 1972, the Board of Directors and Association membership voted to change the name to the American Lung Association of Arkansas, indicating the associationís advocacy and guardianship of all Arkansasí lungs.

In order to maintain its century-long focus on improving the lives of Arkansans, the American Lung Association of Arkansas decided to change its name to the Arkansas Respiratory Health Association in 2007. This name change enabled the staff and board of directors to continue concentrating on the lung health needs of Arkansans. The Arkansas Respiratory Health Association will continue help Arkansans breathe easier as we move into our next century of service.