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October 19, 2020 0

Recently, one of our community partners, Karen Oslund, reminded us that cancer isn’t taking a break just because we’re in the midst of a pandemic. Karen is the executive director of the Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County and she has a front-row seat to the devastation cancer can cause for individuals and everyone who loves them.

Her comment got us thinking about how hard it is to convince ourselves that now is the time to do preventive care. Even in the best of times—and these are not the best of times—most of us are really good at coming up with reasons why we can wait until tomorrow or next week (or never) to make an appointment for our annual exam or a cancer screening we know we need. Until we have symptoms, we believe we’ll always have more time.

When the coronavirus hit last spring, many of us thought we’d hold our breath until it was over, figuratively speaking. Well, this is lasting longer than most of us expected, and putting life on hold until it’s over doesn’t seem like such a good strategy anymore.

With that in mind, if you have a little extra time on your hands, what better time to schedule an appointment than now? At Mendocino Coast Clinics, we can help you figure out how to afford the care you need, so don’t let that be a barrier.

During an annual check-up, a medical provider will review your family health history, your lifestyle, your age, your emotional state, and your physical condition. With this information, they can let you know which screenings you need and how to decrease your risk of developing chronic illnesses. The simple act of taking your vital signs allows a medical provider to determine whether you’re at risk for common diseases like hypertension. Routine screening serve an important purpose. There is strong science behind the reason that the recommendations are made.

There is no magic number to determine when you’ll start having health problems, but people older than 50 are at higher risk for many illnesses, so once you hit that age, it’s smart to keep an eye on things like blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, colorectal health, and bone density, among other things. Men should also monitor their prostate function and women should become familiar with menopause symptoms. Your medical provider will likely also recommend getting vaccinated for the flu, pneumonia, and shingles.

If you’re thinking, “I feel fine. I don’t need to see a doctor,” you may be right; however, there are some serious health problems that can go undetected for a long time unless you’re looking for them. For example, many types of cancer don’t have noticeable symptoms until the cancer has spread. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, this is a great time for women to go get a mammogram. Most breast cancer, like many types of cancer, is highly treatable when discovered early. Hypertension is another condition that usually doesn’t exhibit symptoms until it has progressed to the point of putting patients at risk.

We’re living in stressful times right now. Why not schedule an appointment for an annual check-up to put your mind at ease and get the care you need to stay strong and healthy now and into the future?

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October 15, 2020 0

Fort Bragg, CA – Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) is offering a free, drive-through Public Health flu vaccine clinic on Tuesday, October 20 from 3:00 – 5:00 pm in the west parking lot of 205 South Street. It is open to all coastal residents and no appointment is necessary.

“Everyone is welcome. You don’t have to be an MCC patient to get vaccinated,” said MCC Executive Director Lucresha Renteria. “The only people who should not get the flu shot are babies younger than six months old and the tiny percentage of people who are allergic (which is like 0.0001 percent of the population). We will not provide high-dose vaccines, so this clinic is safe for pregnant women and people who are medically compromised.”

In light of the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in Mendocino County, Renteria noted that the flu shot is more important than ever. People who get the flu vaccine typically either do not get the flu at all or they have milder flu symptoms, which makes them less likely to require hospitalization. “The flu shot is always a good idea, but it is even more important this year,” she said.

MCC remains dedicated to serving all people on the coast, including the most vulnerable populations such as the elderly and the homeless. To do so, it is imperative that healthcare workers remain healthy. Renteria urged people to comply with Public Health directives to wear masks, maintain social distancing, and limit non-essential group gatherings.

For details about the flu clinic, call (707) 964-1251.

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Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) ofrecerá una clínica de vacunación contra la gripe de salud pública gratuita el martes 20 de octubre de 3:00 a 5:00 pm en el estacionamiento oeste de 205 South Street. Está abierto a todos los residentes de la costa y no se necesita una cita.

“Todos son bienvenidos. No es necesario ser paciente de MCC para vacunarse ”, dijo la directora ejecutiva de MCC, Lucresha Renteria. “Las únicas personas que no deberían vacunarse contra la gripe son los bebés menores de seis meses y el pequeño porcentaje de personas alérgicas (que es como el 0.0001 por ciento de la población). No proporcionaremos vacunas en dosis altas, por lo que esta clínica es segura para mujeres embarazadas y personas con problemas médicos “.

Con el reciente aumento de casos de COVID-19 en el condado de Mendocino, Rentería señaló que la vacuna contra la gripe es más importante que nunca. Las personas que se vacunan contra la gripe generalmente no contraen la gripe o tienen síntomas de gripe más leves, lo que las hace menos propensas a requerir hospitalización. “La vacuna contra la gripe siempre es una buena idea, pero es aún más importante este año”.

MCC sigue dedicado a servir a todas las personas de la costa, incluidas las poblaciones más vulnerables, como los ancianos y las personas sin hogar. Para ello, es imperativo que los trabajadores a la atención de la salud se mantengan sanos. Rentería impulse que todos cumplimos con las directivas de salud pública para usar máscaras, mantener el distanciamiento social y limitar las reuniones grupales no esenciales.

Para obtener detalles sobre la clínica de la gripe, llame al (707) 964-1251.

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October 8, 2020 0

As cooler weather approaches, most of us will start spending even more time indoors, and experts tell us this could cause an uptick in the number of coronavirus cases. In related news, flu season is on its way. Just another kick in the teeth from 2020, a year many of us would like to leave behind.

The good news is there are steps we can all take to reduce our risk of both COVID-19 and the influenza virus, and the precautions for one also reduce our risk of the other: wearing masks, remaining socially distant, washing our hands regularly, and limiting contact with people as much as possible. Although we must wait for a COVID-19 vaccine to become available, we can get our flu shot right now.

You may be thinking, if we’re all wearing masks and staying socially distant, why do we need a vaccine? There are several reasons. First, the flu is far more prevalent than the coronavirus and therefore, it is likely to spread to more people. Although you may wear masks at work and in public, you probably don’t wear them at home where people pass viruses back and forth all the time. And if you have children, your chances of getting the flu just went up.

Some people don’t get the flu shot because the vaccine is only 40-50 percent effective. But even if the vaccine protects only half the people who receive it, that means a very large number of people will not be spreading it to others. Also, people who get the vaccine typically have milder flu symptoms and are less likely to require hospitalization or to die from a complication of the illness. During the 2019-2020 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “estimates that influenza was associated with 38 million illnesses, 18 million medical visits, 405,000 hospitalizations, and 22,000 deaths.”

Really, the only people who should not get the flu shot are babies younger than six months old and adults with allergic reactions. Just to be clear, many people experience a minor immune response to the vaccine—this is not an allergic reaction. If you feel tired and a little sick after getting the flu shot, this is actually not a bad thing according to Mendocino Coast Clinics Medical Director Dr. Lawrence Goldyn. These are the signs that your immune system is revving up. Just to put your mind at ease, according to the CDC, in recent years only 33 individuals out of 25 million vaccines given had a serious allergic reaction. So, it is extremely rare.

If you are pregnant or immuno-compromised, it is important to mention this to the person providing the flu shot. The nasal spray typically given to children is not safe for people who are immuno-compromised because the vaccine contains a little bit of live virus.

Overall, getting the flu shot is likely to prevent you from getting the flu or at least reduce your symptoms, and that will not only make you feel better but also slow the spread of the flu. Also, if you get the flu shot and later experience flu-like symptoms, your medical provider may be better able to diagnose you with coronavirus rather than the flu, saving valuable time.

Much is still unknown about the coronavirus, but we do know that people who get the flu are often more susceptible to secondary infections. It is possible that getting COVID-19 could increase our chances of contracting the flu or vice versa. It’s best to do what we can to prevent infection, and that means getting a flu shot.

The flu vaccine is proven safe and effective and every medical provider I know gets vaccinated every year (and insists their loved ones do the same). Here at Mendocino Coast Clinics, Dr. Goldyn insists that every member of the staff get the flu shot unless the employee has a medical history that makes it dangerous—a very rare occurrence.

Please, for your own health and the health of our whole community, go get a flu shot!

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August 18, 2020 0

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Lucresha Renteria, Executive Director

lrenteria@mccinc.org | (707) 964-1251

Covered California Health Insurance Extends Deadline to August 31

Fort Bragg, CA – The spike in unemployment caused by COVID-19 has left many coastal residents without employee-sponsored health insurance, a situation mirrored statewide. In response, Covered California recently extended its health insurance enrollment deadline to August 31, allowing more time for Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) to help local people register for health coverage for themselves and their families.

“Under the best of circumstances, choosing and enrolling in health insurance programs can be confusing. With COVID-19, the need for insurance has become urgent and figuring it all out can feel overwhelming,” said MCC Executive Director Lucresha Renteria.

At Federally Qualified Health Centers like MCC, patient advocates offer a free service to support patients through the process of enrolling in whichever health insurance program is most appropriate for them, whether it is Covered California, Medi-Cal/Partnership HealthPlan, choosing Medicare supplemental plans, and other insurance types. All three of MCC’s Patient Advocates are bilingual in English and Spanish. Most of the services are currently provided over the phone with the only need for a visit to the clinic being for signatures or delivery of necessary paperwork.

Covered California

Covered California is California’s answer to the national Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (sometimes called Obamacare). Covered California is a health insurance exchange offering many options and it can be difficult to know which one is best, both in terms of cost and with regard to which programs local care providers accept.

Partnership HealthPlan of California (Medi-Cal)

Medi-Cal is California’s version of the federal Medicaid program, which offers health insurance for people with incomes below 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($17,237 for an individual; $35,535 for a family of four) or for those who meet strict disability criteria. In Mendocino County, Partnership HealthPlan is the company that administers Medi-Cal benefits.

Medicare

For those 65 and older, MCC patient advocates can help U.S. citizens and qualified immigrants enroll in Medicare, the federal health insurance program for older adults. MCC Patient Advocate Albert Anderson said, “People who are not on Social Security should look into applying for Medicare three months before their sixty-fifth birthday, because they will not receive a Medicare card automatically.”

Medicare has three parts:

  1. Part A provides inpatient/hospital coverage.
  2. Part B provides outpatient/medical coverage.
  3. Part D provides prescription drug coverage.

There are two types of supplemental plans available to fill the gaps and deductibles in Medicare coverage. MCC’s patient advocates can help people decide which options best fit their individual needs.

Other Support

In addition to health insurance, MCC’s patient advocates assist with other types of support, such as CalFresh (formerly called SNAP or food stamps) and Social Security benefits. Advocates can explain correspondence from the government about health-related programs and assist with permanent federal disability applications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). During the annual enrollment for medication benefits associated with Medicare, they assist with Medicare Part D screenings.

For uninsured or underinsured patients who qualify, MCC’s patient advocates can reduce healthcare costs by applying a sliding fee scale to the care provided at MCC. For most low-income patients, enrolling in a federal or state health insurance program provides peace of mind and more affordable health care.

Renteria said, “If you are currently uninsured or looking for options for your healthcare coverage, call us at (707) 964-1251 and schedule an appointment with one of our patient advocates. Their services are free and confidential. You may be surprised what you qualify for and how inexpensive some health insurance programs can be.”

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MCC is a non-profit, federally qualified health center providing medical, dental and behavioral health care to residents from Westport to Elk and inland to Comptche in Mendocino County for more than 25 years. Visit  www.mendocinocoastclinics.org for more information.</center>

 

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April 23, 2020 0

Fort Bragg, CA – Last week, the North Coast’s non-profit health center, Mendocino Coast Clinics, was able to secure a shipment of 5,000 medical masks to protect employees, patients, and visitors from COVID-19. To help raise funds for this purchase, MCC invites community members to support its “We Ask for a Mask” campaign on May 5. The campaign is part of #GivingTuesdayNow (now.givingtuesday.org), a global movement encouraging people to give back to their communities in any way they can during an emergency response to the COVID-19 virus.

The MCC masks were secured through connections initiated by a supporter of MCC’s annual fundraiser. Tawny MacMillan, who coordinates the fundraiser, said, “This extraordinary feat [of securing masks] means that providers, nurses, medical assistants, behavioral health counselors, the dental and pediatric staff, everyone will be further protected during the COVID-19 crisis – and not have to reuse masks. That, in turn, means we can meet our ultimate goal: to further protect our patients.”

Each mask costs five dollars so, MacMillan explained, every small donation will have a big impact. In this case, five dollars can save a life.” Those interested in supporting MCC, can visit the health center’s website at mendocinocoastclinics.org/donate.

More than a month ago, when news of the pandemic hit, MCC proactively safeguarded patients and staff by investing in telehealth, setting up a triage tent in the parking lot to isolate potential COVID-19 cases, and stocking up on personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gowns, and gloves. This type of preparation is crucial in a rural environment such as the Mendocino Coast with limited access to acute care services.

MCC also sought grant funding to offset the costs of responding to COVID-19. It awaits news from some funders, but in the meantime, it is putting federal funding and a generous donation of $5,000 from the Mendocino Coast Healthcare Foundation to good use. The federal monies are funding salaries and other essential expenses, and the MCHF donation is being used to expand telehealth services, specifically to purchase Doxy—a secure telehealth online subscription.

MCC Executive Director Lucresha Renteria said, “We are very grateful to MCHF. Especially in light of COVID-19, we are leaning on technology more than ever. This funding will help defray some of the costs as we purchase more tablets and laptops, pay for broadband, and subscribe to online telemedicine services,” she explained.

Services such as behavioral health and non-essential medical appointments have been converted to phone and telehealth video calls. For essential healthcare services that require face-to-face meetings, MCC continues to see patients at their health centers or, in the case of the Coastal Street Medicine program, at local shelters and churches. MCC regularly sends a registered nurse, a case manager, and a translator to the Hospitality House and Presbyterian Church to provide COVID-19 health checks and basic medical care, including wound care.

MCC Medical Director Dr. Lawrence Goldyn applauded MCC employees in a recent letter, in which he also shared some insights about providing care during a crisis, those he gathered as a provider during the early years of the HIV epidemic.

“Here are some of the things I have learned.  People are scared. It brings out the best and the worst in them. We will see both the good and the bad in expected, and sometimes unexpected, places. We will see selfish hoarding, stigmatizing and abandonment of the ill. We will also witness breathtaking selflessness and kindness.

Embrace your fear. Do not let it overwhelm you. Talk to your family, colleagues, and friends about your fears, but pay attention to your audience. If you seem afraid to those who look to you for guidance, you might scare them even more. If you feel overwhelmed, look for professional help without embarrassment. 

Find solace at whatever altar comforts you. This might include a traditional house of worship, the woods, or the seashore. It might be a quiet place in your home or your garden.

Stand up for science. Science is the antidote to the ignorance that promotes fear. Science will bring us back to some kind of normalcy. I saw great scientists mocked and harassed during the early days of the HIV epidemic. They stuck to their principles. Ultimately, they saved millions of lives. They rank among my heroes.

Be proud of what you are doing. Embrace your heroism but do it with humility. This capacity to do monumental work fell into our laps. Some people spend a lifetime looking for something to participate in that is bigger than themselves. What we do here is beyond important. We are not caring for patients in Intensive Care Units, but we are saving lives. If you doubt how heroic your work is, go online and search for ‘applause for health care workers.’ I applaud all of you.”

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March 18, 2020 0

Like most health centers right now, Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) is doing everything possible to provide top-quality health care while preparing for a potential surge in patient visits caused by the COVID-19 epidemic.

“As of today, we still have no confirmed cases here on the coast or anywhere in Mendocino County, but common sense tells us it’s coming,” said MCC Executive Director Lucresha Renteria. “At this time, we are providing essential MCC services. We have modified the seating in all MCC lobbies to allow for social distancing. This is an evolving situation, so things will change. Effective Thursday, March 19, the dental clinic will reduce services and behavioral health appointments will move to telephone visits as much as possible. We will continue to evaluate other uses of telehealth and telephone visits for other MCC services.”

Renteria asks that patients with fever, cough, and/or trouble breathing who want to see an MCC medical provider call us first at 964-1251. This allows nurses to meet patients in their cars rather than having them come into the health center where they could infect others. It also allows staff to use protective gear such as gloves, masks, and gowns before interacting with the patient. MCC has a limited number of testing kits and are evaluating patients to test those who meet the criteria. No patient will be denied testing due to inability to pay.

MCC is dedicated to serving all people on the coast, including the most vulnerable populations such as the elderly and the homeless. To do so, it is imperative that healthcare workers remain healthy. Renteria urges people to comply with Public Health directives to limit face-to-face contact with others as much as possible, to respect social distancing, to engage in hand washing and other hygiene recommendations like coughing into tissues, and to continue to stay informed as the situation evolves.

For the latest Mendocino County Public Health coronavirus updates, visit www.mendocinocounty.org/community/novel-coronavirus. To schedule a medical appointment at MCC, call 964-1251.

Click here to visit our COVID-19 page

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March 10, 2020 0

Fort Bragg, CA – Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) now provides targeted case management for patients with Hepatitis C, offering treatment that can result in a cure. Through its staffing and coordination of the Coastal Street Medicine program, MCC has been able to identify more patients infected with the virus, a virus that causes liver inflammation and often, liver cancer. Jennifer Martin is just such a patient. During the 1980s, Martin tested positive for Hepatitis C but opted not to seek treatment, having seen others endure the months-long course of injections and oral medications that caused intense, ever-present flu-like symptoms, including fever, aches and pains, headache, chills, and nausea. Over time, people sometimes became anemic and after all that, only a third of those who could tolerate the treatment were cured.

Then everything changed. A new treatment was developed, and it has revolutionized how medical professionals treat Hep C patients. Today, patients take daily pills for eight, twelve, or sixteen weeks (depending on their medical history and response to the treatment) and after that, their viral load is often undetectable. Undetectable means the virus is no longer assaulting the liver, and patients with an undetectable viral load cannot spread Hep C to others. The main side effects of the new treatment include headaches, nausea and fatigue, but they are not as intense and can be addressed by drinking more water, taking the medication with food, and taking the medication before going to bed.

MCC Street Medicine nurse Bill Simon explained how important it is for people to get tested, so they can get treated. “About half of the people who have hepatitis C don’t know it and the liver is extremely important. It filters the blood. Without a functioning liver, you eventually become poisoned from the inside out.” The Mendocino County AIDS and Viral Hepatitis Network (MCAVHN) offers free testing through the Street Medicine program. Otherwise, people can go to their primary care provider for testing. It is a quick, finger-stick blood test with results available in about five minutes. Simon said he understands that there may be a stigma attached to the illness and that for those with a stable address, pharmacies can mail medications in non-descript envelopes “so no one has to know you have hepatitis.”

The Hep C virus (HCV) is acquired by exposure to infected blood, usually through needle sticks, unprotected sex, hemodialysis, or blood transfusions before 1990. Infected mothers can also pass it to unborn children in utero.  The people at highest risk include IV drug users, people born between 1945-1965 (before blood for medical transfusions was tested), those with HIV, and those who have been incarcerated. Simon recommends that people who test positive for Hep C inform their sexual partners.

Not all hepatitis is created equal. There are three main types: A, B and C. For Hepatitis C, there are seven genotypes and dozens of subtypes. The combination of genotype and subtype determines the course of treatment. Also, it is important to know whether someone has more than one type of hepatitis, because some treatments for Hep C can worsen Hep A and B. And it is important to get tested if you fear re-exposure because people can get re-infected with hepatitis. In Mendocino County, the most common types of Hepatitis C are 1a, 1b, and 3.

During treatment, patients meet with their medical provider regularly for blood tests and other follow up. At the Wednesday Street Medicine clinic at the Hospitality Center on Franklin Street in Fort Bragg, Simon meets with Hep C patients to deliver medications, review progress, and teach patients how to manage side effects and take care of themselves. This is where he met Jennifer Martin.

Martin was nervous about seeking treatment for hepatitis, but said she was more frightened of dying from complications of liver failure. After her three-month post-treatment blood test indicated her viral load was undetectable, she was thrilled. She said, “Wow, no more Hep C. I can’t believe it. It’s great. I’ve added a few more years to my life.”

Once the liver is damaged, which can take decades, symptoms can include easy bleeding and bruising, fatigue, jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes), dark urine, itchy skin, ascites (fluid in the abdomen), weight loss, confusion and drowsiness, slurred speech, and spiderlike blood vessels appearing on the skin.

Simon said, “If you or someone you love has these symptoms, seek medical treatment. The success rate for Hep C treatment is about 98 percent.”

The Coastal Street Medicine program is a collaborative effort, with Mendocino Coast Clinics, Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center, and Adventist Health working together to bring basic medical services to homeless men and women in our community. The service is free and confidential.

Photo Credit: Patient Jennifer Martin and Nurse Bill Simon, taken by Jendi Coursey.

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October 8, 2019 0

Fort Bragg, CA – Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) recently received $48,551 based on the quality of the health care they provided in 2018 and $167,000 to expand behavioral health services. The quality award included $30,000 for MCC’s patient-centered medical home (PCMH) designation, $12,551 for their 15% improvement on clinical quality from 2017 to 2018, and $6,000 for their use of health information technology to increase access to care and to advance the quality of care between 2017 and 2018. The behavioral health expansion grant funding will allow MCC to provide additional services, including child psychiatry via video conference, often referred to as telemedicine.

Funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), MCC and other health centers like them will use quality awards to improve the quality, efficiency, and value of the health care they provide.

According to HRSA, “By providing patients access to high quality, value-based care, health centers are uniquely positioned to meet the nation’s most pressing health care needs, as well as emerging health priorities. HRSA-funded health centers are the first line of care in combatting the nation’s opioid crisis. In 2018, health centers screened nearly 1.1 million people for substance use disorder and ultimately provided medication-assisted treatment to nearly 95,000 patients nationwide.”

MCC provides a variety of healthcare services, including medication-assisted treatment for people struggling with substance use disorder. Other services include medical, dental and behavioral health care, as well as some specialty services such as chiropractic. MCC also creates special clinics within the broader service offerings to support special populations, such as BlueDoor@MCC for teens and OpenDoor@MCC for the LGTBQ community.

MCC Executive Director Lucresha Renteria said, “We’re really proud of the care we provide. It’s nice to receive additional federal funds so we can take care of even more people here in our community.”

Pictured: PA Dawn Hofberg and patient.
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August 29, 2019 0

With school starting on August 14 in Fort Bragg and August 26 in Mendocino, those with school-aged children should be scheduling their yearly child wellness checks and sports physicals. Connecting your child with medical care each year is an important way to prevent some health problems and to catch others while they’re still relatively easy to manage. Does your daughter need glasses? Can your son hear well (maybe he isn’t just ignoring you)?

PREVENTION IS THE BEST MEDICINE

One of the most important things we can do for our children is to vaccinate them. Decades ago, many families had to experience the tragedy of losing a child to polio, whooping cough, or other infections, but thanks to modern vaccines, this is no longer the case. Today, children can be protected against measles, chickenpox, rubella, HPV, meningitis and more.

When we all vaccinate our children, we help create what’s called “herd immunity,” protecting not only those who receive the vaccines but also the most vulnerable people in our communities—those who cannot be vaccinated such as babies younger than six months old and people with weakened immune systems. We are lucky to live in a time when we don’t see the devastating effects of these diseases very often. Let’s keep it that way!

TRACK GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT

Another important reason to check in with a medical provider every year is to measure your child’s growth and development for their age and stage. If your child is not reaching common milestones, it may indicate a problem. Often, the younger the child, the easier it is to help them catch up. If a problem exists, your healthcare provider can take care of it or send your child for the right therapy or specialized care.

Here are five main areas of development providers consider:

  1. Cognitive skills are those used to think, learn and solve problems. Kids use these skills to explore the world around them with their eyes, ears, and hands.
  2. Social and emotional skills are those used to relate to other people and include being able to express and control emotions.
  3. Speech and language skills are essential to use and understand language.
  4. Fine and gross motor skills include the use of small muscles (fine motor), particularly in the hands, and large muscles (gross motor) in the body.
  5. Daily living activities are those required to manage everyday tasks. They can include things such as eating, dressing, and bathing themselves.

SPORTS PHYSICALS

Children’s bodies change a lot during between the ages of 12 and 18, and an annual checkup is a great time to make sure those changes are going well. During the tween and teen years, sports can be a healthy way for adolescents to release stress; the key is to make sure it’s safe. Intense physical activity like the kind required during competitive school sports can bring to light problems no one knew about. A thorough sports physical can identify symptoms that prevent catastrophic medical problems.

Since sports physicals are often the only time adolescents see a medical provider each year, these appointments can also provide a critical opportunity to provide health education or diagnose problems that might not come up otherwise. Many providers ask parents if the parents would be willing to step outside for a few minutes, so teens can discuss health concerns privately with providers. Providers can provide a safe space for teens to discuss life stressors or behaviors related to social pressures, drug use, alcohol, sex, anxiety, and mental illness. Providers can help keep teens healthy by sharing accurate information. At Mendocino Coast Clinics, we have male and female clinicians, so teens can choose whichever they are more comfortable with.

BRING YOUR QUESTIONS

Sports physicals and annual wellness checks are a good time for parents to ask questions, too. If you have questions about development, behavior, sleep, eating, or social interactions, note your top three to five concerns and ask your child’s clinician about them at the start of the visit.

Just because children don’t exhibit any obvious problems doesn’t mean they shouldn’t see a healthcare provider. When we identify problems early, they’re usually easier to fix.

Copyright by Mendocino Coast Clinics. All rights reserved. This Health Center receives HHS funding and has Federal PHS deemed status with respect to certain health or health-related claims, including medical malpractice claims, for itself and its covered individuals. This Health Center is a Health Center Program grantee under 42 U.S.C. 245b, and deemed a Public Health Service employee under 42 U.S.C. 233 (g)-(n). Any claim filed against MCC must be done in federal court.

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