Tahlequah Daily Press

February 23, 2012

Getting fit for life

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — In this high-tech age of computers, fast food and video games, it’s sometimes hard to train children to eat healthy and exercise.

The Grand View Parents As Teachers program hosted its first Fit for the Heart Community Health Fair Tuesday at the school’s Early Childhood Center, with hopes of meeting new families.

Those in attendance visited with health care and education professionals, as well as other family-related services. The Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Mobile Telemedicine Clinic, or mobile medical bus, was on site to promote specialized health care in rural areas.

“Our goal is to recruit babies to the program in our community with our parents as teacher program,” said Grand View PAT Parent Educator Jean Smith. “We’re trying to help people get everything ready for school and raise healthy families. Sharing and helping – that’s what our program is all about. The underlying focus of the health fair is to get more families in the program.”

The Oklahoma State University mobile medical bus is one way health care can be delivered to rural populations. OSU has the state’s largest telemedicine network, connecting physicians to patients using the internet, which allows patients living in rural areas the same access to specialized health care as those living in metropolitan areas.

OSU medical students receive hands-on training in telemedicine.

“We do actual clinics two to three days a week,”  said OSU TeleHealth Manager Debbie Martin. “We supplement the specialized needs they don’t have in a community. We offer cardiology, dermatology, psychiatry, behavioral health management and counseling with ADHD children.”

The mobile medical bus is providing clinics in Stilwell, Poteau, Miami, McAlester, and Pawnee to doctor-referred patients.

“We go to our patients,” said Martin. “The doctors can talk to them on video”

Because it is mobile health service, the computer equipment provides “real-time” readings so the doctor and patient can communicate much in the same fashion as an in-office visit.

It’s this kind of specialized care and support that the PAT program provides for participating families.

“I see pre-natal through pre-school aged children and their families,” said Smith. “We do developmental screenings. We do referrals. We focus on the family’s well-being. Not just a particular child, but the whole family.”

Tuesday’s health fair represents just one way PAT helps not only the families that participate in the program, but the Grand View community.

“It’s really great,” said PAT participant and mom Candace Nottingham. “She brings lots of information. Lots of booklets. She can answer any question I have.”

Nottingham said the benefit of participating in a program like PAT is the “extra guidance and support behind you.”

Cherokee Nation Veteran Outreach specialists were also available for consultation.

“We reach out to veterans who may be in need of readjustment services, marriage counseling, PTSD support – everything veterans and their families may need,” said Outreach Specialist Jack Musgrove.