36th MDG provides physicals year round

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Robert Hicks
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
School is almost back in session and for children and parents, this is usually the season for school physicals.

However, the 36th Medical Group has been providing physicals to Team Andersen youths for the past 12 months to provide them with a more extensive exam than what a typical sports physical is, according to 36th MDG officials.

"By providing physicals year 'round the focus becomes the health of the child versus reacting to a request from the schools to have a form filled out," said Capt. Allen Solenberg, 36th MDG group practice manager.

In the past, the group would hold mass visits for children to come in and be seen, but for the past year, they have taken a new approach.

The goal of this new initiative is to identify any underlying conditions which may pose a health risk if unmanaged or unscreened.

"As the base pediatrician, my goal has been to improve both access and quality of care delivered to the patient," said Capt. Matthew McDonough, 36th MDG chief of pediatrics. "In spacing out the visits throughout the year, we relieve any bottlenecks for participation. In requiring a wellness visit, I get a chance to take care of the entire patient, not just to clear them for sports or school."

Andersen physicians check for anything that would make participating in sports unsafe or medical conditions that might need to be addressed such as musculoskeletal abnormalities, abnormal family histories and heart abnormalities.

"The inaccuracy of school physicals, instead of sports physicals, comes from the fact that sports generally begin when school starts and parents are told that the school needs a physical for students to participate in sports," Solenberg said. "There are several schools on the island that require their students to have a school physical. I suggest that parents check with their child's school district to ensure they are covered."

Solenberg said there is no requirement for students to have a physical exam just to be enrolled in Department of Defense schools, though some parents have the misconception they are, even if their children aren't playing sports.

"Every child should ideally have a routine wellness visit annually from the age of two until they reach their late teens," McDonough said. "These are important to screen for development, general health and weight gain. I personally believe every high-quality wellness visit falls within the same screening done in a sport physical."

For information, questions, or to make an appointment, call the 36th MDG at 366-WELL (9355) and ask for your primary care physician.