Houston pediatrician Teresa Duryea, MD, was planning her first Texas Medical Association Hard Hats for Little Heads helmet giveaway during her clinic’s annual health fair in April, but COVID-19 put those plans on hold.
Instead, Dr. Duryea is giving the helmets during well-child visits at Texas Children’s Hospital Primary Care Practice clinic in Houston’s Fifth Ward.
As COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders are lifted statewide, you might be looking for ways to reconnect with your community. But, social-distancing recommendations mean you have to get creative.
Hard Hats has helmets available for physicians interested in following Dr. Duryea’s lead to get kids outside and active during the pandemic.
Dr. Duryea said clinic staff routinely discuss healthy lifestyle choices, including nutrition and exercise, at well-checks, so talking about the importance of a helmet while biking is easy to work into the conversation.
Many of the clinic’s patients have limited resources, especially now, said Dr. Duryea, so their families are unable to purchase a helmet. Plus, with COVID social distancing continuing into summer, families are looking for fun outdoor activities they can do together, such as bicycling, she said.
Since 2007, in-office Hard Hats giveaways have been routine at People’s Community Clinic in Austin, which gets funding support from the Travis County Medical Society Alliance.
The program “gives us the opportunity to directly impact the health of young Texans in a very important way,” said Jenny Stern, Travis County Medical Alliance’s newly elected vice president of community service.
Louis Appel, MD, said People’s Clinic physicians enjoy giving away helmets during well visits. “It’s great to be able to give patients guidance on helmet safety, then follow up with a tool to do it,” he said.
Physicians ask the children to promise to wear the helmet so they take ownership of their safety.
Once a physician confirms a child needs a helmet, he or she makes a note in the chart, and a medical assistant fits the helmet on the child and provides educational materials.
Dr. Appel echoed the importance of encouraging kids to get outside during these times. “Riding a bike helps establish some normalcy, and the exercise can help counter the stressors,” he said.
TMA encourages you to find creative ways to give helmets. A fishbowl drawing in your office could allow you to give away a new helmet on a certain day, or at the end of the week or month. Urgent-care facilities or emergency departments could keep helmets in stock for kids who come in for a bicycle-related accident and need a new helmet.
When you purchase up to 50 helmets, TMA boosts your giving power with an equal match of helmets. Helmets cost $7.85 each (including shipping).
Pediatricians, like Dr. Duryea, can receive helmets at no cost through a special perk for Texas Pediatric Society (TPS) members. TPS covers its members’ cost to purchase up to 25 helmets, and TMA provides an equal match of helmets. The Texas College of Emergency Physicians provides the same benefit to its members, and the Texas Academy of Family Physicians supports any family physician giveaway.
To receive an order packet, contact Tammy Wishard, TMA outreach coordinator, at (512) 370-1470 or via email.
Hard Hats for Little Heads is supported in 2020 with a grant from the TMA Foundation.