Get Healthy: Nurse plays a large role in community’s health
This column appears in the Nevada Appeal health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
It’s a Monday morning at Carson City Health and Human Services, and Nurse June Corbitt is seeing her first patient of the day. June has been the well-child nurse at the Health Department for three years after a nursing career in labor and delivery and pediatrics. Making sure children are healthy is her job and her passion.
Carson City’s well-child program is an important resource. At each appointment, Nurse June performs a variety of assessments based on the age of the child. She evaluates things such as cognitive, speech and motor skills as part of a developmental assessment. She also does a routine physical, listening to the child’s breath and heartbeat, and checking their vision, hearing and teeth, in addition to gathering some basic information such as weight and height.
If any of her young clients seem to be struggling developmentally or physically, she is quick to make a referral to another agency or to a physician to get the child the help he or she needs.
“Well-child checks are so important for early intervention,” she said. “The sooner a problem can be identified, the sooner it can be helped.” She works with agencies such as the Ron Wood Family Resource Center, WIC and Human Services, as well as local dentists and physicians, to get children into care.
Corbitt also works with the parents at each visit, giving them information about child development and answering questions they might have. Because she is not a doctor, she can’t prescribe medications, but she makes recommendations about things such as healthy food choices, vitamins or vaccinations. Educating the parents about healthy choices is important, because the nurse might only see the child once or twice.
Well-child checks are recommended for children at age 2, 4, 6, and 9 months and at 1 year. Ideally, visits should be scheduled every six months until the child turns 3, and annually thereafter. Annual well-child checks are available until the child turns 18, but often older teens are seen by the public health nurse. For those who have insurance, the cost of a well-baby check is often covered. For the uninsured, there is a flat fee of $40, which includes any assessments, needed immunizations, and sometimes other services, such as a fluoride varnish or hemoglobin test. Well-child visits are offered on Mondays. To make an appointment, call the clinic at 775-887-2190.