Athletes Receive Free Sports Physicals
On December 6, during Special Olympics Wisconsin’s Northern Fall Sports Tournament, 46 athletes received a free sports physical as part of the fourth annual MedFest. The event is a free health screening that facilitates the acquisition of the standard sports physical that is required under the General Rules of Special Olympics, Inc.
Ministry Health Care physicians, nurses, physician assistants and medical students volunteer to provide an initial check of medical history, height/weight and blood pressure. They also provide cardiac, musculoskeletal and orthopedic testing, as well as an abdominal evaluation.
Individuals with intellectual disabilities often face a myriad of barriers to receiving adequate healthcare, including financial or insurance concerns, difficulties with transportation, and finding healthcare providers who are able to cater to his or her specific needs.
Ministry has partnered with Special Olympics Wisconsin’s Healthy Athletes program for the last four years and supports MedFest through volunteer recruitment, supplies and extending provider insurance to the event.
A total of 182 athletes have now received a sports physical thanks to MedFest.
Dr. Michael Clark, medical director of EMS services at Ministry Saint Clare’s Hospital in Weston and board member for Special Olympics Wisconsin, generously donates his time to organize MedFest and had seen the impact the screenings have on athletes, as well as the success of the overall event.
“The flow of athletes was smooth with minimal wait times,” Dr. Clark says. “We detected a few [health] concerns needing follow-up, but no major issues.”
Not only do athletes receive great care during the event, but the volunteers are also able to learn valuable lessons on how to further work with individuals who have intellectual disabilities.
“Our volunteers absolutely learn as much as our athletes do during MedFest—they learn new communication strategies and how to really take these big picture ideas about being healthy and turn them into easy-to-understand facts perfect for our athletes to take away,” said Melissa Schoenbrodt, director of Athlete Wellness Initiatives for Special Olympics Wisconsin.
For volunteers, this means a unique hands-on service learning opportunity and a day of also making new friends. Students from the Medical College of Wisconsin came out for the event to donate their time and energy to the day and to get them ready for their future careers.
Paul Merchant, a first-year medical student volunteer from the Medical College of Wisconsin, wrapped up the day saying it opened his eyes to different experiences: “There were great teamwork moments between athletes, doctors and students.”
Published April 2015