The COVID-19 pandemic can monopolize people’s medical attention, but doctors want to remind people, especially parents, there are important checks that shouldn’t be skipped.

Among those are the regular pediatric visits known as well-child visits, which start shortly after birth and repeat multiple times in the first two years. The Williston Herald spoke with Dr. Menelik Mulu and pediatric nurse practitioner Joseph Stonehocker from CHI St. Alexius Williston about the importance of the regular visits.

1. It gives doctors and nurses a chance to make sure children are developing appropriately.

“Sometimes, as parents, we are comfortable with our kids,” Stonehocker said.

But a visit to the pediatrician can reveal developmental delays parents might not. That means if something is wrong, it can be caught more quickly.

2. It’s a chance to share information in both directions.

Much of any pediatrician visit is going to be observation and exam, even if it doesn’t necessarily seem like it. The walk to the office, interactions with doctors and nurses and other simple things can offer a chance to understand how the child is growing up.

It’s also a chance for the doctors to share information. One major topic is vaccines.

Because so few Americans have experienced communicable diseases like measles, mumps and whooping cough, many parents don’t understand how serious they can be. Mulu said he explains the process and answers questions.

“We kind of guide them,” he said of parents.

3. Parents can ask questions.

One major purpose of the visits is to give parents a chance to get answers to any questions they might have. Both Mulu and Stonehocker recommend keeping a list of questions in your cell phone so you can find them quickly.

A lot of times, the exam itself answers a lot of questions, but if there are more, parents should always feel free to ask.

“I will answer whatever questions,” Mulu said, “one or 20, I’m going to answer whatever.”

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