Wellness visits crucial to continued health

Since early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the importance and fragility of the health industry. While many of our daily routines were upended and disrupted, some of those annual habits should never be on hold – specifically regular wellness visits.

Much like cars, our bodies need to be maintained. Even as we enjoy much of pre-pandemic life returning, it’s important for that to include a continuation of regular doctor visits that will ensure we are healthy and able to enjoy life moving forward.

Because of the chaos and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, the amount of wellness visits for children and adults have been well-below the average from previous years.

Even when case numbers have declined and vaccination percentages have improved, wellness visits have stayed below the previous average. While telehealth has been a resource used throughout the pandemic and will remain an asset in the future, it is imperative that patients feel confident about returning to in-person visits with their medical care providers.

Mercy Health’s Dr. Jene Bramel wants patients to feel confident in getting the wellness care they need.

“Telehealth has improved access to care, but there is no substitute for being able to watch a toddler move or make eye contact and talk with a teenager about the behavioral and adolescent health concerns,” says Dr. Bramel, pediatrician at Mercy Health – Urbana Family Medicine and Pediatrics.

Wellness visits are of vital importance to a child’s health.

“It is critically important that we see them,” Dr. Bramel adds. “We do a lot of screening with height, weight, growth, development, and routine vaccinations. We also get the chance to talk to them about what is going on in school or at home.”

The summer months are also known as pediatric well visit season, as they allow children the opportunity outside of the school year to see their doctor, talk about any concerns they might have – whether it be about their physical health, mental health, academic well-being, or any other topic they can think of.

Having an open line of communication and regular wellness visits can allow parents and children to explain any points of concern to their doctor and ensure they receive guidance on how to best treat or manage the situation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) emphasizes these benefits to wellness visits:
  • Prevention – Children get scheduled immunizations to prevent illness. Pediatricians can also give advice about nutrition and safety in the home and at school.
  • Tracking growth and development – Doctors can gauge a child’s growth and development in the time since their last visit. An in-person visit is an opportunity to discuss your child's milestones, social behaviors, and learning.
  • Raising concerns – Parents can make a list of topics to talk about with their child's pediatrician, such as development, behavior, sleep, eating, or getting along with other family members. Bring three to five questions or concerns to talk with your pediatrician about at the start of the visit.
  • Team approach – Regular visits create strong, trustworthy relationships among the pediatrician, parent, and child. The AAP recommends wellness visits as a way for pediatricians and parents to serve the needs of children. This team approach helps develop optimal physical, mental, and social health of a child.
According to John Sanford, a physician assistant at Mercy Health – Urbana Family Medicine and Pediatrics, wellness visits are just as important for adults.

“So many chronic diseases require routine interaction, like blood work and medication adjustments,” says Sanford. “As people come back in after not being seen for a year or more, we are seeing a significant increase in uncontrolled diabetes, misused medication, and some patients not being able to get their prescription filled.”

These visits can also be used to discuss the efficacy of any medications patients are taking, as well as any changes that need to be made to improve each patient’s health.

Wellness visits play a vital role in the overall well-being of our community, and both Mercy Health – Springfield and Mercy Health – Urbana are available as community partners to help local patients focus on healthy futures.