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Staying strong

Program provides Seward athletes with affordable, local sports physicals
Every year, athletes who want to play sports in high school must have a physical exam proving that they are healthy enough to participate. It’s a rule that’s been in effect for as long as sports have been a part of schools. For athletes, it’s a necessary chore to check off their to-do lists.
But for smaller rural Alaska towns it can be a challenge. Thanks to ongoing support from Providence Seward Medical & Care Center, it’s as simple as making a phone call and heading to their local care center in town.
“Offering sports physicals are a great opportunity to interact with the youth of our community, make it easier for them to be able to participate in athletics and encourage healthy behaviors,” said Amy Bukac, MD.
For at least the last 10 years, and dating before 2001, Providence Seward and Seward High School have partnered each spring to offer annual sports physicals to Seward teens at a cost of just $5. Not only does it make the physical exams affordable, said Providence Seward spokeswoman Jessica Arrigo, it also – and most important – makes them convenient.
“Not a lot of families here get to go to Anchorage that often and so it’s really a matter of convenience,” Arrigo said.
So agrees Seward Middle School eighth grader, Tia Miranda who plays volleyball and soccer. “Everyone’s schedules are different so it’s easier to be able to just come in and get the sports physicals done. And it helps out the community since not everyone can afford to pay for them.” In 2012, Providence Seward provided nearly 70 physicals to students in grades 8 through 12, which is about the average number of students it serves each year. To fit that many athletes in, it coordinated with the high school, which then had students register for specific exams appointment times.
The exams are good for the following calendar year, so students can go straight into their fall sports at the beginning of the school year without having to scramble for a last-minute, required exam.
The event requires the time of up to three physicians and nine to 10 nurses, administrators or other support personnel – all of whom set aside time to help check in students, chart information and keep the flow of students moving quickly – to get as many through as possible.
“All total, it’s about 60 man hours, plus the cost of the physicians,” Arrigo said.
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