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WOW program at MCMH helps to give kids a healthy start.

Being a parent has never been easy. Children today have an overwhelming amount of yummy, but nutritionally sparse foods tempting their taste buds in addition to a number of screens fighting for their attention. There is a lot of information available to parents about keeping their kids physically active and how to maintain a balanced diet, but where to begin? Most parents can agree that they will take all the help they can get! Maine Coast Memorial Hospital (MCMH) recognized a need in the community to help families sort through that information and give kids a healthy start in life. MCMH has partnered with EMMC’s Way to Optimal Weight (WOW) Clinic to offer a WOW satellite clinic on site at Maine Coast Pediatrics.

The WOW Clinic was developed by pediatrician and American Board of Obesity Medicine certified specialist, Valerie O’Hara, DO, of EMMC. The program is designed specifically for children and adolescents between the ages 15 months to 19 years, with a body mass index at or above the eighty-fifth percentile. The WOW clinic seeks to help kids and their families make positive changes that improve health conditions associated with elevated body mass index, such as breathing problems, joint pain, or type 2 diabetes. Dr. O’Hara adds that the program’s young participants are also helping other children as well. “WOW is participating in a national registry that will help clinics like ours use evidence-based interventions to improve cardiometabolic risk factors (the chance of having diabetes, heart disease or stroke) for this pediatric population.”

The program uses a multi-disciplinary team approach at the WOW Ellsworth satellite clinic which

Kaileigh Porter, registered dietitian from MCMH providing dietary education.

includes EMMC medical provider Kathrin Hastey, family nurse practitioner; Acadia Hospital behavioral specialist Michaele Potvin, licensed clinical social worker; and Kaileigh Porter, registered dietitian from MCMH providing dietary education. WOW partnered with Down East YMCA, located in Ellsworth to provide a certified personal trainer that will direct the physical activity component of the program.

TAMC and EMMC also have a similar successful partnership hosting a WOW clinic at Aroostook Pediatrics. Using telemedicine and quarterly site visits, Dr. O’Hara supports local TAMC staff to guide County families toward better health. Six area children are enrolled already in the program with more soon to enter.

Kaileigh does have a unique perspective of the program, “As a mom myself, I identify with a lot of the struggles these families are facing like staying on a budget, managing busy schedules, and working around the developing palate of a young child. It’s really rewarding to work with kids. During my initial assessment, I focus on the positive things they’re already doing and build from there. My job isn’t to tell them what they are doing wrong, but to educate and support positive behavior change.”

Kathrin has already seen the positive effect the program has had in the area. “Having the opportunity to provide our WOW expertise in the local community has been exciting for all of us at WOW and well received by the patients and families in this area. The ability to improve access to care by reducing the traveling distance for our patients makes it possible to help more children.”

A physician’s referral is required to participate in the WOW Clinic. For more information, please call the clinic at 581-4WOW (581-4969) and ask to speak with the WOW clinical coordinator, Starr Johnston, RN.