Ask the Expert: Importance of Preventative Care in Children & Teens

We are thankful to partner with Memorial  Health Systems to provide moms with local healthcare resources and information for their family.

Ask the Expert: Importance of Preventative Care in Children & Teens Memorial Health System Summer is here, and the family’s schedule can—hopefully—lighten so you have more time to enjoy well-deserved relaxation!

While we want you to soak up as much summer fun as you can stand, we also know you’re always preparing for what’s to come. You are a mama, after all.

We’re teaming up with a Memorial Health System Family Medicine physician, Dr. Tim Sanford, to address some of the common questions families have about preventive care for kids, the importance of a sports physical, when to transition from a pediatrician to a Family Medicine provider, and more.

Dr. Tim recently moved back to the Mississippi Gulf Coast after living in Oklahoma. He and his wife, Dr. Tracy Sanford, were raised on the Coast and met while playing in a band together at Harrison Central High School. Learn more about the family, their passion for Family Medicine and how they balance it all!

Why are preventive care/wellness exams important for kids and teens?

Dr. Tim: At a wellness visit, the focus is on the broader aspects of the child or teen’s health, with a holistic approach to the patient’s current and future wellbeing.

At the wellness visit, elements of a sports physical are addressed. In addition, the immunization status is assessed, hearing/vision screenings can be performed if indicated, developmental/behavioral issues are assessed, labs can be obtained (if needed). Advice is given to help to promote long-term health. If the provider has seen the child in the past, then health trends and patterns are easier to identify.

Dr Tim Sanford Preventative care family doctorWhy are sports physicals important for this age group?

Dr. Tim: A sports physical is designed to evaluate the child/teen for conditions that might interfere with their participation in the specified activity or which might place them at increased risk of injury during participation.

For this reason, the focus is on:

  1. Certain elements of the family history
  2. Participant’s orthopedic and medical history
  3. Physical examination.

The sports physical is not intended to be a complete evaluation or wellness examination/encounter and even is defined as being a “limited screening”.

When should parents transition their children from a pediatrician to a Family Medicine provider?

Dr. Tim: There is not a set age for changing from a pediatrician to a Family Medicine provider for medical care. This is an individual decision made by the patient/family and by the pediatrician. Some pediatricians do have specific ages at which they stop seeing patients, while some make this decision on a patient-by-patient basis.

This decision should be made solely by the patient (and family, when appropriate) and the physician. The physical and psychosocial needs of the patient and the abilities of the pediatric provider to meet these needs should also be considered.

Why is it important to establish a primary care provider from a young age and to stay connected throughout your teenage years?

Dr. Tim: Ultimately, the main reason to establish and follow up with a primary care provider is for the long-term health of the child. Their physician can be a resource for answering questions and providing education, especially as the child enters adolescence.

Physical and emotional changes can be very confusing for youngsters (and their parents!), and having a resource who can answer questions and provide advice can be invaluable.

If you are searching for a pediatrician or Family Medicine provider for your family, visit or call (228) 867-4000.