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Columbia Missourian

Head Start promotes home treatment over emergency room visits

By Gabriella Cruz
November 13, 2012 | 10:41 p.m. CST
Head Start Columbia invited parents from eight counties to attend a low-literacy health training event Tuesday night at Stoney Creek Inn.

COLUMBIA — Cowboy hats, children's toys and laughter filled the Frontier Room of Stoney Creek Inn on Tuesday evening as parents learned how to treat their children's illnesses at home.

Head Start — a federal program that promotes school readiness for young children from low-income families — invited parents from eight counties to a low-literacy health training event Tuesday night. Teachers, Head Start site leaders and parents were treated to dinner, games and giveaways and were encouraged to wear their best Western outfits.

Topics discussed at the event included the recognition and treatment of lice, common health myths and how to prevent and treat sun-damaged skin.

Jackie Rivera, a Head Start nurse, emceed the event. The night's goal was to introduce parents to procedures that would eliminate trips to the emergency room. Many people use the emergency room as their primary doctor when leaving their home is not even necessary, Rivera said.

"Of course, we want them to go if their child is very sick," she said. "But we want to teach them that they can treat their children at home and that they should feel confident about it."

Throughout the night, prizes were given to attendees, all of which were either donated or bought with federal grant money, said Nolanda Dodd, a Head Start adult education specialist. Parents took home bikes, scooters, small appliances and children's toys.

Attendees also went home with a book full of common questions, scenarios and illnesses with answers on how to deal with them at home.

"A lot of people aren't sure how to give medication or how to take a temperature," Rivera said.

Amber Snyder, a home visitor in Audrain County, brought several parents from her Head Start site to the event. 

"A lot of times they text me: 'Hey, my child has a fever, what should I do?' Now they can just look at the book and get (the answer) there," Snyder said.

Event attendees were given totes full of sunscreen, thermometers and other health-related necessities to aid them in taking care of their children.

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