In November, during Special Olympics Wisconsin's Northern Fall Sports Tournament, 35 athletes received a free sports physical as part of the sixth annual MedFest.
Medical volunteers from Ministry Saint Clare's and Ministry Saint Michael's hospitals and Ministry Medical Group, all part of Ascension Wisconsin, teamed with Medical College of Wisconsin students and other volunteers to provide this free health screening.
After an initial check-in and review of medical history, medical students and fellow healthcare volunteers measured vital signs and conducted near and far vision screening. Then the medical students performed a sport physical exam in conjunction with physicians and physician assistants.
In addition, new this year, each athlete received dental screening and education by members of the Special Olympics-WI Special Smile program.
Individuals with intellectual disabilities often face a myriad of barriers to receiving adequate healthcare, including financial or insurance concerns, difficulties with transportation, and finding healthcare providers who are able to cater to their specific needs.
Six years ago, Ministry Health Care partnered with Special Olympics Wisconsin's Healthy Athletes program, and the organization supports MedFest through volunteer recruitment, supplies and extending provider insurance to the event. More than 250 athletes have now received a sports physical thanks to MedFest.
A driving force behind the event is Michael Clark, MD, an Emergency Medicine Physician at Ministry Saint Clare's and Medical Director for Special Olympics Wisconsin. Dr. Clark generously donates his time to organize MedFest and had seen the first-hand impact the screenings have on athletes, as well as the success of the overall event.
"Not only do athletes receive great care during the event, but the volunteers are also able to learn valuable lessons on how to further work with individuals with intellectual disabilities," Dr. Clark said.
Pictured: Medical volunteers from Ascension Wisconsin joined students from Medical College of Wisconsin to provide free sports physicals to Special Olympics athletes during the sixth annual Medfest.