Child health program expands

By NICK ROGERS, The Greenwood Commonwealth

A program designed to catch health problems early in Greenwood-area children has entered its second year.

Greenwood Leflore Hospital has expanded its Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment Program (EPSDT) to the Greenwood School District. In its inaugural year, the program served the Leflore County District.

“What we’ve found in this area is that the majority of children are already sick when they see a doctor,” said Treva Stigler, a registered nurse and regional director of clinic operations for the hospital. Stigler and registered nurse Sabrina Matthews coordinate the school-based program.

According to Stigler, healthcare professionals recommend making at least one trip to the doctor while in good health each year.

This practice makes it possible to identify and treat potential health problems early, before they become serious issues.

The EPSDT program tries to aid this process by bringing health care directly to the students while they’re in school. The clinic team conducts a wide variety of medical services, including physical, mental, dental, hearing and vision exams as well as lessons on hygiene, diet and exercise to students whose parents have signed them up for the program.

One of the program’s main goals is to make sure students are vaccinated. “If we identify that a child is behind on a required or recommended vaccine, we can vaccinate onsite,” said Stigler.

She said it’s important that parents feel confident and informed about the medical care their children are receiving, and so letters detailing the care each child received are mailed home to parents after each screening.

The program is expected to reach more than 2,000 students in the county by the end of April.

Stigler and Matthews said they’ve tried to improve the program based on last year’s feedback.

“One complaint we heard a lot was that the forms were too long, but you need to get a good history on these kids,” said Stigler. The current registration package consists of five pages of questionnaires and consent forms.

According to Matthews, the program has been designed to be as unobstructive as possible.

“We don’t want to be disruptive. We won’t interrupt any core class,” she said. “This kind of prevention actually stops kids from missing school later on.”

The service is open to all students under the age of 18, regardless of insurance or ability to pay.

For more information on registration or the program itself, visit www.glhospital.wpengine.com/services/pediatrics/ or call the Children’s Clinic at 4597030.

Contact Nick Rogers at 5817235 or nrogers@gwcommonwealth.com.