Time to get Back to School!

The 2021-2022 school year is just around the corner and the back-to-school feeling is nice to have back. As kids everywhere get ready for in-person learning this year, here are ways to make sure the start of the school year is a healthy and safe one.

  1. Get Well-Child appointments. During the pandemic, many people got behind (or forgot about) medical appointments like well-child and other annual preventative check-ups. Make sure your child has their well-child appointment before school starts!
  2. Schedule a sports physical. If your child is playing any sport this fall or spring, it’s a good time to get them a physical before the season gets into full swing.
  3. Make sure immunizations are up to date. Schools require immunizations and they keep your child and their classmates protected from unnecessary, dangerous, and sometimes fatal diseases. If students are 12 or older, they should also get the COVID-19 vaccine. Here is the CDC list of childhood vaccines.
  4. Start a good sleep routine. Kids need enough sleep to develop and do well in school and everything else. Most children need between 9 and 12 hours of sleep each night, so start a routine now and keep it up!
  5. Be physically fit. Kids need at least one hour of exercise every day. Make sure they get enough activity whether it is walking, swimming, playing soccer or basketball, dancing, or something else.
  6. Get school supplies ready. Start the school year with a sturdy backpack. Make sure your student has whatever supplies, like notebooks, folders, pens, and pencils, etc. to start the year successfully.
  7. Talk about bullying. Make sure your child knows about the seriousness of bullying. It can hurt people emotionally and mentally and can harm their learning. If your child is being bullied or sees another student bullied, make sure they know to tell a bully to “Stop!” and to talk to a trusted adult (teacher, counselor, nurse) at school.

Ready to start this school year and get your student in for their back-to-school medical appointments? NOAH pediatricians, counselors, nutritionists, and community resource specialists can help your student and family head into the year with everything you need for success. Make an appointment today!

Heat Safety: Staying Safe in Arizona’s Extreme Heat

Summer in Central Arizona is always hot. Always! Even “normal” summer temperatures in Phoenix are dangerous. Then we get a few days or weeks of extreme heat that can be even worse. Know the risks with heat safety, understand the signs of heat illness, and be prepared.

Risks for Extreme Heat

We might be used to high temperatures here in Phoenix, but above 110, 115, or higher are serious. And, when we have more humidity – before or after summer rains usually – it can make the heat much worse. Knowing about heat safety is important year round in Central Arizona.

Everyone can get sick when the temperature and/or humidity go above normal. But some groups are in more danger of getting sick, including people who are:

  • Pregnant
  • Infants or young children
  • Older adults
  • Living with chronic medical conditions or on certain medications

Signs of Heat Illness

There are different levels of heat illness and knowing the symptoms can help a person recover and may even save their life.

  • Heat rash – red cluster of pimples or small blisters around the neck and chest areas typically. Get the person to a cool, shady place and keep the rash dry.
  • Heat cramps – muscle cramps, pain, or spasms in the legs, arms, or stomach. Drink water and eat something but avoid salt.
  • Heat syncope – dizziness, light-headedness, or fainting. The person should sit down and slowly sip water or clear juice.
  • Heat exhaustion – is when your body has a serious loss of water and salt, and the person has a headache, nausea, heavy sweating, dizziness, or weakness. Remove the person from the heat, remove unnecessary clothing, give them liquids, put cool compresses on head and neck, and go to a doctor or hospital.
  • Heat stroke – the most serious illness and can cause death if not treated quickly. The person may have a seizure, be confused, have a very high body temperature, may sweat a lot or have hot dry skin. Call 9-1-1 immediately and begin trying to cool the person down with an ice bath (best action), cool compresses on head and neck, soak clothing with cold water, and use a fan to keep air moving around them.

Prepare for the Heat

It comes every year, so we should all be prepared for the heat. Starting as early as May and going through October, temperatures and humidity can get uncomfortable or dangerous and heat safety is even more important.

First, never ever leave any person or pet in a car. In Arizona, even in cooler weather, cars can get dangerously hot quickly. Never leave anyone or any pet in a car.

Next, limit outdoor activities and exercises if possible. People make the mistake of thinking because they (or their pets) have hiked, run, walked, etc. during hot weather before, that they are somehow immune to the dangers with sometimes devastating results. If you must do activities outside or work outdoors, avoid the hottest part of the day, try to avoid days with extreme temperatures, leave pets at home, seek as much shade as possible, and be sure to take plenty of cold water, a charged phone, and wear appropriate clothing.

Lastly, check on older family, friends, and neighbors. When older people have mobility issues or live alone, the risks can be even worse. Call or better, visit them in person to make sure they are safe.

If keeping the power on is a concern, NOAH’s Community Resource Team may be able to help find utility assistance or other types of help. Also, most power companies in Arizona cannot shut off power from June 1 – October 15 for late payments. So even if you, or someone you know like an elderly neighbor is behind on payments, they will be cool and safe at home during the hottest months.

Throughout Maricopa County there are cooling stations for people who need water or don’t have access to cool, indoor spaces for safety. Find one near you but be prepared so hopefully you never need it.

Child Abuse Prevention – It Takes A Village

By Glenda Henman, Behavioral Health Counselor

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Most people avoid thinking or talking about child abuse and neglect because it is upsetting and difficult. However, in 2014, there were more than 700,000 children who were victims of child abuse and neglect. Knowing how big the problem is means we can take action to reduce this number and support these children as they recover.

We know now that child maltreatment (a phrase that includes abuse and neglect) can have lifelong and even generational impacts on physical and mental health known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). It might be Child Abuse Prevention Month, but at NOAH, we work to prevent and heal child abuse every day.

Impact on Children

People usually think of visual, physical abuse or injuries, but child abuse takes many forms. Emotional neglect, medical and educational neglect, and sexual abuse are other forms of child maltreatment. Too often, these children are also facing other negative experiences like parental substance abuse, domestic violence, and poverty.

What to look for:

  • Talking about the abuse
  • Sexual knowledge beyond their age
  • Withdrawing, running away, or avoiding a specific person
  • Nightmares, bed wetting
  • Changes in mood or appetite
  • Being fearful of a parent or caregiver
  • Sudden changes in behavior

Preventing Abuse and Neglect

Many of us here at NOAH, like doctors, nurses, dentists, psychologists, and others are Mandatory Reporters and must report abuse or suspected abuse of children or vulnerable adults. Reporting abuse is an essential step, but we can all be an advocate to prevent child abuse.

The best way to prevent child abuse is by promoting protective relationships and environments. Protective factors are tools and support that help a family stay strong so they can face challenges together like:

  • Social connections
  • Parenting knowledge
  • Reliable and safe support in times of need

If you or someone you know needs additional support, NOAH is a great place to start! Our Community Resource team can connect families to resources, and our Behavioral Health team is here to support parents develop resiliency to face challenges.

Actions for everyone

Whether we have children in our lives or not, we can all take steps to help protect children and support families in our lives and our communities.

  • Read books or articles, attend trainings or classes on parenting, or get involved with trusted resources like community leaders, schools, libraries, clergy, or these organizations:
  • Ask for help when you need it.
  • Offer to help people in your life who are parents or raising young children.
  • Be a friend to a child you know; remember their name, show them you care.
  • Teach children how to be safe from sexual abuse with age-appropriate, open conversations with your children about bodies, sex, and boundaries. If you need help in having these conversations, or how to prepare, our counselors can help.
  • Find out about local resources and refer families. Learn more on 211arizona.org.  

The phrase ‘it takes a village’ is thrown around a lot when talking about raising children. But all too often, people who need that ‘village’ the most, don’t know where to find it. The best way to make sure children are safe and cared for is with a safe, healthy, supported family.

If you have questions, NOAH’s Community Resource team and Counseling team are a great place to start. Request an appointment today!

Turn to NOAH for Access to Healthcare

Enroll in health insurance with Crystal

At NOAH, our patients are the most important thing. And for the Community Resource team, caring for patients is an often complex and very individualized job. Helping patients live healthy lives might sound like simply going to an appointment with your healthcare provider, but it starts with access to healthcare but is so much more than that.

A few things to consider:

  • What if a patient doesn’t have health insurance?
  • How does a patient without a car get to an appointment?
  • What if an appointment with a doctor is important, but the patient is too stressed because the family doesn’t have enough food for tomorrow?
  • How will a patient schedule an appointment without a computer, internet service, or other technology?

The Community Resource team helps find answers to these questions that benefit individuals and families. One of the most valuable ways to connect with patients – or future patients – is through health insurance enrollment.

Crystal, NOAH’s Community Resource Supervisor shares what to expect from her team.

Access to healthcare

“We meet people a few different ways, from the Hospital to NOAH program, patients just calling or submitting our appointment form, or from one of our NOAH providers referring a patient,” explained Crystal. “We’ve met people this past year who are without insurance for the first time, or people who are underinsured, overpaying for insurance, or those who need insurance for their children. Whatever the situation, NOAH can help find the health insurance program or resource to help.”

Crystal and her coworkers can help English and Spanish-speaking patients enrolling in:

  • AHCCCS Medical Assistance (Medicaid)
  • NOAH Discount Program
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • KidsCare
  • Health Insurance Marketplace (ACA)
  • Temporary Cash Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Medicare Savings Program

And, the good news is that enrollment for Health Insurance Marketplace reopened until August 15th. More people can enroll if they didn’t during the fall, or if someone’s had changes in work or income and need health insurance.

“This extended ACA or Marketplace enrollment gives us an opportunity to help even more,” said Crystal. “Now the ACA gives people more options to get the care they need. For example, people might be over income for a program like AHCCCS – which is a terrible feeling – and the ACA is their only option. These people earn too much to qualify for one program, but don’t earn enough to see the doctor or specialist they need. There are more options now and we can help people find what works for them.”

If you’d like an appointment to help with your Health Insurance Marketplace (ACA) enrollment, call 480-882-4545 or complete this online form and Crystal or one of her teammates will schedule your appointment.

Access to more than healthcare

Having health insurance is so important, but so often, our Community Resource team helps individuals and families connect with other resources.

“It is really rare that we meet with a patient for one thing, and they end just getting just that ONE thing,” said Crystal. “We ask everyone a few questions that bring up other opportunities to help.”

Other services like housing needs, food assistance, and transportation for medical appointments, are just a few of the resources available from the Community Resource team.

“We have all worked with patients who are stressed over real issues like how to feed their families, or where to find a job,” shared Crystal. “Once someone meets with us, we can help them find so many other resources and even services like our NOAH counselors to help through some challenging times. We are a tight community and love helping others.”