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Essentia Health stresses importance of preventive well-child visits

A health care worker administers a needle to a child's arm during a physical exam. Photo by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Unsplash.com

Preventive medical care remains critically important even during a global pandemic, so Essentia Health is reminding parents to schedule their well-child visits.

Well-child visits cover topics like children’s growth and development, nutrition, safety, and emotional and physical well-being.

Kari Bulthuis was concerned about COVID-19 and was fearful of visiting the doctor. But the mother of two “couldn’t have felt more safe” while bringing in her 16-year-old son last month for a checkup; he received a full physical and two vaccines, according to officials.

“Healthy children fare better during a pandemic, and we as a society should do everything we can to promote health and wellness,” stated Bulthuis, a speech-language pathologist at Essentia, in a news release.

Dr. Jonathan KenKnight, a pediatrician at Essentia, stated, “Pediatric well visits are so much more than ‘just’ a checkup or a sports physical.”


Scheduled vaccines, which prevent viral infections like measles, mumps, polio and hepatitis, also are administered during these visits.

“We get to know your family, encourage healthy lifestyles and ensure that your children are growing appropriately — mentally, socially and physically,” KenKnight said. “As long as we are able to provide this service safely, seeing our families face-to-face in the office is vitally important to continue to carefully monitor your child’s health, from infancy to young adulthood.”

Other benefits include:

  • Prevention: The child gets scheduled immunizations to prevent illness. Parents also can ask their pediatrician about nutrition and safety in the home and at school.

  • Tracking growth and development: See how much a child has grown in the time since the last visit, and talk with the doctor about the child’s development. Parents can discuss their child’s milestones, social behaviors and learning.

  • Raising concerns: Make a list of topics to talk about with the pediatrician, such as development, behavior, sleep, eating or getting along with other family members.

  • Team approach: Regular visits create strong, trustworthy relationships among the pediatrician, the parents and the child. This team approach helps children develop optimal physical, mental and social health.

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