Students get physicals from local doctors

Published 3:35 pm Wednesday, May 9, 2007

More than 300 athletes from Picayune Junior High School and Picayune Memorial High School were at Highland Community Hospital Tuesday evening to get their physicals for the upcoming year.

Picayune school district Nurse Jan Sweet said this is the fourth year that the school has worked with the hospital and Wellness Works to provide physicals free of charge to high school and junior high athletes in the school district.

Sweet said that last year, they provided physicals to 375 junior high and high school students, and were expecting a similar turnout this year.

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Sweet said the physicals are good for one year, and are required by the Mississippi High School Activities Association for extracurricular activities such as sports, cheerleading, and Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps.

“Before we did this, we had students who couldn’t afford physicals or didn’t get them for some reason or another,” said Sweet. “This was the most efficient way to ensure that all children are physically fit.”

Sweet says that providing the physicals to the students at no charge saves money and is cost and time efficient.

“Of course it is beneficial to parents and children first of all, and the benefits to the school are just secondary,” said Sweet.

Betsy Burk of Wellness Works said there were six doctors helping to give the physicals this year, from all different disciplines such as pediatrics, surgery, and general practice.

The doctors that assisted were Dr. Ahmad Haidar, Dr. Alfred Johnson, Dr. Walter Gipson, Dr. Ablodun Balogun, Dr. John Barton and Dr. Ashraf Tabatabaii.

Kristi Mitchell, PMHS girls’ softball and basketball coach, said, “It’s a wonderful thing that the hospital and community doctors and nurses do for us. A lot of kids might not have the opportunity to play sports without these physicals.”

PMHS boys’ basketball coach Daniel Kennedy agreed, saying “I think it’s wonderful. It keeps kids and their families from having to pay for these physicals, and it’s real convenient having it here by the school.”

Erik Smith, a seventh grade football player at PJH says he thinks it’s a wonderful idea, and his mother Kay Craddock agrees.

“I think it will help a lot of parents. It’s our first year to do it, but I think it’s okay the way they do it,” said Craddock.

“I’m happy they’re providing physicals because I feel safer with one. I have all the information I need so I know if I have a problem or not and won’t hurt myself,” said Jolene Dennison, a seventh grader at PJHS and a member of Junior Pride of the Tide.

Dennison’s mother, Michelle Powell, says she likes it because it makes it easier on her as a parent. Powell says it’s good to have someone locally that can do this, because her family’s regular doctor practices in another town.

“I just think it’s a really good idea,” said Powell.