Archived Story

SMH gives back to students

Published 10:03am Friday, July 5, 2013

FRANKLIN—Football, baseball, basketball, color guard and band are high school activities that have at least one thing in common — you have to get a physical to participate.

Dr. Michael Ponder, who grew up near this area, demonstrates a portion of a sports physical exam. Ponder volunteered every night that the hospital gave free physicals to student-athletes. -- CAIN MADDEN/THE TIDEWATER NEWS
Dr. Michael Ponder, who grew up near this area, demonstrates a portion of a sports physical exam. Ponder volunteered every night that the hospital gave free physicals to student-athletes. — CAIN MADDEN/THE TIDEWATER NEWS

And if your student is enrolled in Southampton or Franklin high schools, that physical is free courtesy Southampton Memorial Hospital.

“What they do for our school is just outstanding,” said Dave Lease, Franklin High School athletics director. “It saves our kids a lot of money, and they do it because they want to do it, and I think that is nice.”

In the past, Old Dominion University in Norfolk would send students out to perform the physicals for free, but with budget cuts that was no longer possible, said Kim Marks, assistant chief executive officer of the hospital. So three summers ago, Southampton Memorial decided to begin volunteering to do this service.

“It is just our way of giving back, a little thing that we can do,” Marks said. “And they hold a night for our employees, so it is win-win.”

Chief Quality Officer Lucy Drewry said it also helps the youth become more comfortable with the hospital.

“It establishes a good relationship with them,” Drewry said. “It gives us a trusting relationship with them that we will take care of them — provide them with quality care.

“It also helps the community be a healthier community.”

Dr. Michael Ponder, who volunteered at the event every night, said that while teenagers are usually healthy, sometimes they do keep them out of sports.

“Teenagers never come to the doctors, other than for sports, and the good thing about having them is that kids do need them,” Ponder said. “We listen to their hearts and lungs, and sometimes we find problems.”

Drewry said that Southampton Memorial sees approximately 300 student-athletes a year. Lease said that 130 of them came from Franklin High this year. The event took place on five nights during the first two weeks of June. Lease said, “They do it every year at one time. Makes it nice, all of them getting it out of the way at once.”

A physical can cost $90 to $140, Drewry said. For some parents, lease said a physical isn’t an easy expense.

“It is hard for them to afford it,” Lease said. “It is nice for not just the school, but for the parents too, that the hospitals will do something like this for them.”

The doctors, including Ponder, volunteered their time to do these physicals after their clinic hours.

“I grew up in a rural community, and my doctor used to do this, and it was a great benefit,” Ponder said. “It is just my way of giving back, and it also shows the kids that doctors are good people to be around.”

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