Rural Health School concludes with project

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 5/09/01.

Providing medical information about Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) was the focus of a community project that capped the most recent session of the Rural Health School at the Paynesville Area Health Care System.

Two RHS sessions are held at PAHCS each year, which brings medical students from different disciplines together in a rural setting to learn from each other and about rural medicine. The most recent 12-week session started in February and featured five students: Troy Decker (physician's assistant), Kay Ivers (speech therapy), Pepper Meyer (Pharm.D.), Gail Musolf (nurse practitioner), and Jonathan Strohschein (medical doctor).

The session includes case discussions, tours of local and area medical facilities, and visits to family farms and local factories to learn about occupational safety.

For their community project, this group turned to child development and settled on ADD. They surveyed the teachers at Paynesville Area Elementary School to learn about their interests and presented an in-service workshop after school on Tuesday, April 24.

Their presentation consisted of a power-point presentation on myths and truths of the disease by Gene Beavers, a physician's assistant at PAHCS, and a question-and-answer session by Jim Jansen, a Paynesville eighth grader who was diagnosed with ADD in elementary school.

Beavers said ADD is a biological disorder that has been in medical literature for 100 years and is found in every country.

An estimated 17 million people have ADD, according to Beavers, though only a third are identified, meaning two-thirds are not treated. Kids who are also hyperactive, and get in trouble, are commonly identified and consequently treated, Beavers said in his presentation.

"The quiet little girl who stares out the window gets missed, until she starts flunking," he explained.

Despite the name, the disease involves paying attention to too many things, Beaver said. A whisper in the classroom, the sound of pencils writing across the paper, the clock ticking, the feel of their sock could distract an ADD person. "The teacher teaching gets a small amount of what's left," he said.

The most common form of treatment is medication, but Beavers advocated using diet and supplements. Proper nutrition can help, as well as eliminating allergic foods from the diet, Beavers said. These approaches can be more difficult to maintain, he cautioned, and require the commitment of the child.

Jansen related his diagnosis, his treatment, and how his disease affects him when he doesn't take his medicine.

The in-service at PAES was attended by 35 teachers. Decker said Jansen and Beavers did a good job. "There were a lot of questions afterward, which meant the teachers paid attention and were interested," he added.

Elementary principal Todd Burlingame thanked the RHS group for the great presentation.

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