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Coos Bay clinic is a one-stop shop for foster kids

FEARsome Clinic staff

FEARsome Clinic staff: Dr. Carla McKelvey, pediatrician, Judy Sanders, mental health therapist, Cathy Houston, medical assistant and in the back, Dr. Dane Smith, oral surgeon.

April 11, 2013 (Coos Bay) -- Most foster children don't come with a set of instructions or a detailed health history explaining how long they've had that hacking cough. But foster parents are required by the state to obtain assessments of a child's physical health, mental and developmental health within 30 days of a placement.

Trying to coordinate all those doctors' visits in one month can be a bit of a time crunch.

Now, foster families in the Coos Bay area can come to the FEARsome clinic, which is housed within the Waterfall Community Health Center. At FEARsome, children can receive screenings from a dentist, a mental health therapist and a pediatrician. Children under age 3 also receive a developmental screening.

"We want kids to be strong and ready to face the world."

~ Carla McKelvey, pediatrician 

Foster parents get training on how to access the childrens' portable medical summary so they can maintain the medical log required of them by the Oregon Department of Human Services.

"It is called FEARsome because we believe our foster parents are fearsome in their advocacy for their foster children," says Carla McKelvey, M.D., pediatrician at North Bend Medical Center in Coos Bay and a member of the Oregon Health Policy Board. "It's also called FEARsome because foster children need to learn how to be fearsome by gaining in self-esteem and self-confidence. We want kids to be strong and ready to face the world."

McKelvey created the clinic as a way coordinate and expedite what was fragmented care for children in foster care. The clinic is part of the Western Oregon Advanced Health coordinated care organization. The clinic has served some 60 patients since it opened last May, including the Daggett family of Coos Bay. 

"Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful," Dolly Daggett says of her experience with the FEARsome clinic. Dolly and her husband, George, have taken in more than 55 children in the past 12 years, adopted one child and are permanent guardians of another. They also raised six children of their own. 

Before FEARsome, the Daggetts had to wait weeks to get an appointment with doctors and therapists. Now foster parents can get the kids in within a week or two. If they need follow-up care or a specialist, the clinic eases the way by setting up the needed appointments. 

"With the FEARsome clinic it is so much better for the child and the foster parents," Daggett says. "It's important that the doctors and others see the condition the kids are in when they first come to us. It also gives me the opportunity to talk to the doctor about medical or behavior issues right away." 

McKelvey says the next step for the FEARsome clinic is to add a school representative so that there is coordination and collaboration for children. In the future, she hopes the idea catches on and more clinics like FEARsome begin to serve foster families throughout Oregon.