Every Kid Healthy Week (April 19-25)
Like every Wednesday, the focus of the Clearwater Free Clinic on the Wednesday of Every Kid Healthy Week (April 22nd) will be on our local population of uninsured kids. All qualified children (from newborns to 18 years of age) who are sick or need a physical can come to the Clinic for medical care. Begun in January of 2000, the Clinic’s Pediatric Program has recorded over 12,000 pediatric visits. Because of the success of the Pediatric Program, the Clinic has purchased specialized pediatric equipment and medications. And one of the champions of the Pediatric Program is Dr. Joe Perno, MD, FAAP, FACEP, an ER doctor at All Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Joe volunteers most Wednesday mornings and always greets his patients with a smile. “That is easy because people are so thankful,” says Perno. “This is why I went into medicine in the first place, to help people.”
Dr. Joe has volunteered at the Clinic for almost 8 years, stepping in to help when invited by friend and fellow pediatrician, Dr. Bob Morelli. These two volunteers, along with the Clinic nurse practitioner, have been the keys to the success of this pediatric program. “It is a small amount of time for me that makes a huge impact on local children’s
Lives,” says Dr. Joe. Because of their roles with the Pediatric Program, both Dr. Morelli and Dr. Perno have been past recipients of the CFC Physicians of the Year award.
Over the years Dr. Perno has diagnosed children with such things as heart murmurs, asthma, and diabetes, effectively helping to save their lives. Through the services available at the Clearwater Free Clinic, he is able to prescribe the medications and referrals these children need. Many of these young patients qualify for various drug assist programs, enabling them to receive costly medications that otherwise their families would not be able to afford. In addition to Wednesday mornings, pediatric appointments with the Clinic’s Nurse Practitioner can be scheduled as needed.
Every kid deserves to be as healthy as possible. According to Action for Healthy Kids (a national agency encouraging healthy food and regular exercise in American schools), “Healthy kids learn better. Healthy students have improved academic scores, improved classroom behavior, and higher school attendance rates.” Without the services of the Clearwater Free Clinic, the uninsured children in our community would not have access to free medical care and the additional benefits of that care. To see if a family qualifies for CFC services, please visit www.ClearwaterFreeClinic.org where you can find more about this and other Clinic programs.