Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital's Free Sports Physicals Give Kids a Chance to Play
Summer is in full swing and for many parents, and kids for that matter, going back to school is probably the last thing on their minds. But to fully participate in school activities, a sports physical needs to be done. Fifteen-year old Jocey Thieman, from Round Valley, is on her game. This young athlete who plays basketball and volleyball is doing her part now to make sure that she meets the requirements to play when school opens in the fall. And she is thankful to Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital (HMH) for offering free sports physicals to young athletes in Mendocino County. Kristi Thieman, Jocey's mother who came to the first Sports Physical on June 28, says it is a great service to the community. "We learned about it last year but we missed it. So this year, we made it a point to go. Even though we have private insurance, our deductible is pretty high. So getting this for free definitely helps." As a parent, Thieman recognizes the importance of keeping kids active and giving them every chance to participate in sports. But sometimes the costs associated with sports can be pretty high, with uniforms and all the other equipment added up. Michael Medvin, MD, ER physician at HMH who conducts sports physicals, agrees. "The idea to provide free sports physicals really came from the fact that I know how important physical activity is for our kids. Expenses associated with playing sports can sometimes be prohibitive to kids' being able to participate. By providing free sports physicals we are helping reduce the barriers that parents may face to keep their kids active and healthy in our community." In California, sports physicals are required for all students participating in sports. Dr. Medvin underscores the importance of getting a sports physical not just to participate in sports, but also for overall health. "It's important to get a physical done prior to involvement in sports because we are doing a physical exam to make sure you don't have any issues that would create problems while you are playing sports. We also ask a lot of screening questions to help us identify potential health issues that may preclude you from playing sports or make you more prone to accidents or injuries when you're playing. And sometimes we discover conditions that would have never been diagnosed otherwise," he explains. The return to school is still weeks away, so scheduling a sports physical probably isn't high on the list right now, but if you follow the Theiman's lead, your athlete will be well ahead of the game. "There's always a big rush at the end of summer. But parents should get them done as soon as possible because a sports physical done now will get you through the entire school year." said Dr. Medvin. Sports physicals don't necessarily make your kids better athletes, but they will definitely ensure they are healthy and lessen the potential for injury. Last year, HMH staff performed 249 free physicals during the three weekend events. HMH hopes to give every student athlete an opportunity to play by offering these free sports physicals in the years to come. "We've made a commitment to improve the health of our community and this is just one of the ways we are fulfilling this promise. And with our new hospital coming soon, it can only get better," concludes Rick Bockmann, HMH President and CEO. Free sports physical exams are open to all children in elementary and high school participating in a sports program. The next back-to-school sports physicals are scheduled for July 19 and August 9. To register, please call 707.456.3185.