Monday, May 19, 2014

Austin Physicians Provide Athletic Physicals to Uninsured Students

Each year, the Travis County Medical Society (TCMS) and the Austin Independent School District (AISD) join together to give free athletic physicals to AISD middle school and high school students who are uninsured or do not have affordable access to health care. The physicals allow students to participate in extracurricular activities in the coming year. For many, this is the only time they see a physician for a well-visit.

Chris Ziebell, MD, (foreground) and Craig Kuhns, MD,
         provide orthopedic exams to student athletes            
This year, the program provided exams to more than 850 students — that’s 150 more students than seen in 2013.

“I have done these exams for many years, and it is very rewarding to provide a needed medical service to the mostly underserved population,” says Tom Coopwood, MD, veteran volunteer and retired general surgeon. “The smiles on the children’s faces when the exam is done are priceless. This program is one of the many reasons why I am proud to say I am a member of TCMS.”

Austin pediatrician Ellen Howard, MD, says volunteering for the program gave her a chance to connect with her community. “I enjoy talking with the middle school and high school students. The physicals are done in the student’s environment versus a doctor’s office, so you really get a different perspective and get to see more of the students’ personalities. This even gives a chance for those without a medical home to have a positive experience with a group of physicians.”

Andrea Diebel, MD, performs an ear, nose,
and throat exam during the TCMS/AISD
athletic physicals program
In all, 95 TCMS physicians volunteered their time — a number of them committed to providing exams on multiple days and/or shifts over the course of four nights in April and May. Many long-time volunteers worked alongside first-timers. Special recognition goes to Joseph Spann, MD, and June Spann, MD, who worked tirelessly all four nights.

The program would not be successful without the participation of AISD and Dell Children’s Medical Center nurses, student nurses, and health educators, in addition to the physicians from numerous specialties. TCMS staff were joined by volunteers from the Lend a Hand program at The Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas to keep the students moving smoothly among exam stations.

Through the generosity of the University Federal Credit Union and Austin Radiological Association, the students received healthy snacks and bottled water.

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