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Pediatrics - Importance of Well Visits, Vaccinations, Physicals, Summer Safety

Dr. Jennifer Prince highlights the important topics of pediatric health after more places have re-opened and summertime is here.
Pediatrics - Importance of Well Visits, Vaccinations, Physicals, Summer Safety
Jennifer Prince, DO
Dr. Prince grew up in Florida and attended the University of Florida, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders. From there, she attended the University of South Florida and obtained a Master’s Degree in Bioethics and Medical Humanities and continued on to attend Medical School at Lake Erie College of Medicine in Bradenton Florida She graduated medical school in 2011. She went on to complete her residency at the University of Rochester. She has since worked in New York, San Diego, and recently Alaska. She has come to Ridgecrest continue her passion for community health and wellness.

Prakash Chandran: Summer is here and with everything going on, it's important to make sure your kids stay healthy and safe. An important part of that are well visits and checkups. Let's talk about it with Dr. Jennifer Prince, the Pediatric Medical Director at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital. This is a podcast from Ridgecrest Regional Hospital. I'm Prakash Chandran. So first of all, Dr. Prince, what exactly are well visits?

Dr. Prince: So well visits, is a visit with your pediatrician while your child is healthy, to look at their overall health. A lot of people initially think of it as a chance to get immunization, which is true, but it's much more than that. It's a chance to look at your child's growth as a chance to look at their development. And it's a chance for you to have any questions answered as your child is growing. And as your child gets older, they often have questions about their body, and it's a chance for them to ask those questions as well.

Host: Ah, that makes a lot of sense. So, you know, my daughter is about to turn one. I'm curious as to when well visits actually begin and how often they should happen?

Dr. Prince: So initially they're much more frequent. As children grow up, they're changing, their bodies are changing quickly. We have immunizations to give. So initially it's very frequent. The first couple of visits or every two months, you know, your two months, your four month and your six month well child, and then after that, it starts to spread out and you'll be seen at nine months, 12 months and 18 months. After they get to the age of three, then it's once a year.

Host: And can you talk a little bit about what exactly happens during a well visit? You know, you talked about immunization, you talked about measuring growth, but maybe go into a little bit more detail about a visit itself.

Dr. Prince: The most important thing is definitely getting those immunizations and looking at the growth that can give us lots of clues about how your child health is. When we look at their growth, we look at their height, we look at their weight and when they're younger, we also look at their head circumference and how their head is growing, compared to the rest of their body. We also do a lot of screen tests. During this time. We look for anemia. We look at lead levels to look for lead exposure. We look at risk for tuberculosis. We also do screening tests on milestones to make sure that they are developing as they're supposed to, as they get older, we talk to you about school and as kids get older into the preteens, we talk to them about different risks and how they're doing in school. Are they being exposed? Do they know, friends that are drinking alcohol? Do they know friends that might be worried about just kind of bullying? Do we have any concerns and what can we do as your pediatrician to help you navigate these normal things?

Host: We obviously live in an interesting time right now with COVID, you know, as we start to reopen in some places. And as we enter into Summer, I'm curious as to your thoughts around, you know, the importance of making sure your kids come in for these visits and how to do so safely?

Dr. Prince: COVID has definitely changed everyone's life. Hasn't left anyone untouched and has certainly changed how we do things, especially in the outpatient clinic. We don't want to have kids that are sick, exposing kids that are well. So we've done some different things. We have spaced out our appointments a little bit better. We've changed our waiting room a little bit to space things out to allow for social distancing, but it really is very important that we still continue to do our well visits. We want to make sure that we don't miss anything and we can't do that unless we see your child.

Host: Yes, that totally makes sense to me. You've obviously structured a very safe environment for the children to come in. And in your experience had you seen a reduction in visits because parents were scared before and maybe talk about the risks of not potentially bringing your kid in for these visits?

Dr. Prince: Like I said, when this all started, nobody really knew what to expect and what to do and what was best. So we even started to decrease our visits. We canceled some of the well-child because we didn't want to take that risk. As we didn't know what was going on as has things have progressed, we've learned a lot about COVID we've learned about ways that we can help keep people safe. One of the best ways is by wearing the mask. And it is very important that we get these well-childs. We have children that are missing their well-childs and they're missing their immunizations and they're getting off scheduled. Now we can get back on track, but that only works if we can get you back in the office.

Host: So outside of the visits themselves, a lot of parents are starting to take their kids outside to try to enjoy a little bit of that Summer. So whether that be, you know, walking outside in the heat or going to the pool. And I'm wondering if you have any safety tips for us, parents that are just trying to get their kids to enjoy Summer a little bit more?

Dr. Prince: Yes. So we have all had a little bit of cabin fever as we did different variations of quarantine. So I think it's a great opportunity to get out and enjoy the outdoor area. We do know that COVID spreads less outdoors, and I think that it's wonderful to get out, get people active. There are definitely risks for going outside. We are in California. So make sure you wear your sunscreen and make sure to reapply throughout the day. Pools are a very fun place and can get a lot of activity and kids can spend a lot of their energy in the pools, but make sure you keep a close eye on them. Nothing is more tragic than turning your back, and looking back and seeing your child floating in a pool. So definitely want to keep an eye on them. You don't want to leave them unsupervised and remember that kids are quick. They can get away from you very quick. So you don't want to get distracted on phone and you don't want to turn your back and just run inside for a minute, and you need to make sure that you keep eyes on them at all times. Also we're getting outside more kids are wearing helmets. Kids need to wear helmets when they're doing activities such as biking or skateboarding, helmets will prevent a lot of brain injuries if an accident occurs.

Host: Yeah. You know, I think just coming back to the way COVID has affected things, you know, I think so often we feel like COVID has just caused the world and everything else to stand still. But in the meantime, you know, life is still moving forward. You know, children and all of us can still get sick from all of the things that were present before. So I think the importance of what I'm hearing from you is to get those visits for your children, because, you know, it's not just COVID that affects them. It's everything. Is that correct?

Dr. Prince: That is correct. And kids don't really understand COVID very well. They understand that they've had to stay inside and they haven't been able to see their friends. So getting out and getting some of those activities that is normal to them is also a great way to keep some normalness to their life.

Host: So just as we wrap up here, is there anything else that you'd like to share with parents who may have concerns about their child's health during this time, or just any pieces of wisdom to leave them with?

Dr. Prince: You know, I know that everybody's worried about coming into the doctor's office during COVID, you might not want to bring their child in for these well-childs, but know that we are doing everything we can to keep you safe and to keep your child safe. We are as I mentioned doing some of the measures that I mentioned earlier, we're also calling and screening everybody before they come in for symptoms of COVID. So we're doing everything we can. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out and to call us.

Host: Well, thank you so much for your time, Dr. Prince. I truly appreciate it. That's Dr. Jennifer Prince, the pediatric medical director at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital. Thanks for checking out this episode of Ridgecrest Regional Hospital Podcast, head to for more information. If you found this podcast helpful, please share it on your social channels and be sure to check out the entire podcast library for topics of interest to you. Thanks. And we'll talk next time.