By JOE DUTTON
Photo by Joe Dutton | Pediatrics Specialist Dr. Cynthia Guerue at Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff encourages all
With the first day of school just around the corner, local pediatricians are advising that students be checked and vaccinated to help promote their health and well-being in the classroom.
According to Pediatrics Specialist Dr. Cynthia Guerue of Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff, there are four key ages and areas that physicals are performed: Head Start, kindergarten, seventh grade and sports physicals.
Guerue said the state of Nebraska requires all children to be vaccinated before entering public schools. She said she also sees children that come from Wyoming to get their immunizations, which are not required in Wyoming, but are in Nebraska.
Guerue mentioned different requirements are put into place depending on what grade level a child is at for immunizations. She said Head Start requires vaccinations for all of their programs and kindergarten physicals also require a dental and an optical exam by a separate optometrist and dentist. She said there are numerous different shots depending on grade level, but at the medical center they do more than just a sports physical, they check the overall health of the children.
“When our kids come here, we don’t do a ‘sports physical,’ it’s basically a well-child check,” Guerue said. “The parents may want their sports physical form filled out and we ask a lot of questions and it’s one of the things that we do in our pre-participation evaluation instead of just a ‘sports physical.’”
She said the reason they ask a lot of questions is to evaluate the overall health of the child and they may reveal areas that need treatment or areas that need further investigation. She said they want children to perform at their best in schools and if they don’t feel at their best, they won’t be able to perform at their best.
“If kids aren’t at their optimum health, they are not going to be able to optimally perform in the classroom,” Guerue said. “As part of our school physicals or any sort of well-child check that we do, we are looking at the overall health of the child and that is the most important thing.”
Well-child checks are more than just getting just a quick exam, Guerue said. They are getting a full self-exam that is complete and from physicians who are trained specifically in pediatrics. She said they typically see an average of five patients a day and they do set aside days where they just do physicals.
“There is a difference between the exams that they will get at their regular doctor and what they would get at an immediate care facility,” Guerue said.
Guerue said during any physical she and her staff ask questions about symptoms like asthma, difficulties with heat, concussions and injury related illnesses so that children can be at the best health before participating in any sport.
“There’s nothing worse than getting a month into your season and then having your asthma act up and not being able to perform,” Guerue said. “Then it takes two weeks before you decide it is your asthma and not just ‘I’m in bad shape.’ We want to get that in the forefront of their mind before the season starts so that we can be actively assessing it.”
Also, a part of the sports physicals when they perform them is one of the few times doctors see adolescents, Guerue said.
She said her and her staff ask them about their safety and any other health issues. She said the pre-participation evaluation they provide involves behavioral health issues and they hope to help kids open up in a safe environment within the doctor’s office.
“We are also asking things about safety, do they feel safe at home, we ask about drinking and smoking, depression issues, drug abuse, things like that,” Guerue said. “We are giving those kids an opportunity to open up and create an open door to talk about some things that they won’t get at just a sports physical.”
She said they also try to identify issues such as ADHD and ADD in children, which they get those referrals mid-year after issues have taken place. She said if anything has been seen within the previous year, then they should come in during the summer and talk about management of the situation and get an early start in treatment early in the school year so they are not struggling halfway through the year.
Guerue said they are always accepting new patients and are booking out through September, but sports physicals are due by the first day of sports practice and advises that June is the best time to be thinking about getting a child in for physicals for the following year.
For more information on setting up an appointment for a routine physical or immunization check, contact the Regional West Physicians Clinic at 308-630-1811.