The Hot Springs Pediatric Clinic has been chosen as the site for a HealthySteps pilot program at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
HealthySteps is a pediatric primary care program that is part of ZERO TO THREE, a national nonprofit organization focused on early childhood health and development.
According to the ZERO TO THREE website, HealthySteps is a program based in a pediatrician’s office that helps families identify, understand and manage parenting challenges such as eating, behavior, sleep, development and adjustment. to life with a young child.
A professional with experience in child development, known as a HealthySteps Specialist, connects with families during pediatric wellness visits, offering developmental, behavioral, social and emotional screenings and supports , including advice and referrals for families who need it.
Specialists work within the primary care team and can be a new member of the team or a social worker, nurse or child development specialist already working in practice. All HealthySteps Specialists receive intensive ZERO TO THREE training.
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“HealthySteps is a national program that…Arkansas wanted to adopt because data from the HealthySteps program has shown that it will definitely elevate and affect the health standards of children as they age,” said the Dr. Jessica Cannon, pediatrician at Hot Springs Pediatric Clinic, said.
“They identify children from birth to 3 years old, so basically all patients in our clinic from birth to 3 years old have access to Aracely.”
Aracely Aguirre is the clinic’s HealthySteps Specialist.
“He’s the person who helps identify the needs of (a) family. And then basically helps them find those resources,” Cannon said.
“Arkansas wanted to adopt this program…also in partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield and Walmart…they chose…seven clinics statewide and the Hot Springs Pediatric Clinic was chosen. We are the only clinic in Central Arkansas – most of the rest are either in the little rock area or in the northwest, so we kind of represent and have started rolling out this program with the intention that all clinics in Arkansas eventually adopt this model. I’m the pilot,” she said.
“Essentially what we’re really keen on is helping connect families in need to the resources we have here in the community,” Aguirre said. “Another important aspect that I’m really excited about is working directly with our doctors here at the clinic for any questions parents may have about developmental milestones, behavioral issues…”
The addition of the HealthySteps program isn’t the only change the Hot Springs Pediatric Clinic is experiencing. Longtime pediatrician and clinic owner Dr. Jana Martin is retiring. Martin began working at the Hot Springs Pediatric Clinic in 1990, becoming its owner in 1992. In her nearly three decades of service at Hot Springs, Martin has seen three generations of patients.
His last day will be June 30. A reception will be held in his honor at noon the same day. Cannon will take ownership of the clinic on July 1.
“We invited colleagues and others from the community. We asked the mayor to make a proclamation for her, given all her years of service,” Cannon said.
“I think she’s going to enjoy her retirement and a bit of relaxation. And she and her leadership will surely be missed…she’s an integral part of the community,” she said.