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Annual Checkups Help Kids Start School on Right Foot

One Oregon pediatrician calls wellness visits the "jackpot" of medical exams. ( Stock)
One Oregon pediatrician calls wellness visits the "jackpot" of medical exams. ( Stock)
August 28, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore. – As Oregon students head back to school, a visit to the doctor could be just what they need to start the year off right.

Pediatrician Katherine Clarke at Southern Oregon Pediatrics in Medford said the transition provides an opportunity to schedule annual exams or wellness visits for kids. Clarke said she sees wellness visits as "the jackpot of exams" because doctors can offer tips for the school year – such as how to deal with stress – and even catch something that could be affecting a child's health.

"It's really astounding the number of times you uncover that there's been a day-to-day issue with something that wasn't ever big enough to warrant making a doctor's appointment," she said, "but its impacts on how a person's feeling or their activity level could be present every single day of the week."

Wellness visits are covered for members of Jackson Care Connect and CareOregon. The coordinated care organizations also offer a gift card to teens as an incentive to come in for their annual checkup.

Jennifer Vines, deputy health officer at the Multnomah County Health Department, said there are simple ways for students to stay healthy. She said parents should teach as well as model for their kids, covering coughs and sneezes, washing their hands before eating and staying home if they're sick.

She cited other basic tenets for staying healthy as well.

"It's getting enough sleep at night, it's getting regular physical activity, it's eating a healthy diet that has plenty of fruits and vegetables and lots of different kinds of food in it," she said. "So certainly, those all contribute to wellness and may help stave off some colds and viruses, and other illnesses that get passed around schools."

With an increase in the number of measles cases in Multnomah and Clackamas counties this year, Vines also suggested parents talk to their primary-care providers about vaccinations.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR