Keeping Albia, IA, school kids in athletic activities takes a team: of coaches, medical staff and a group of DMU students led by an alumnus deeply committed to his community.
Every year since 1982, Gerald Haas, D.O.’80, a family practice physician with Monroe County Hospital and Clinics in Albia, IA, and his colleagues have recruited osteopathic medical students to provide sports physicals to local students, grades eight through 12. School coaches and staff pitch in, too. The team sets up in Albia Community High School to provide physicals, required by the Iowa Athletic Association for youth to participate in school sports, to more than 85 students per year, all in approximately two and a half hours. Students pay $10 each.
“We saw it as a good service opportunity to athletes and the community, and more exposure in the broader community,” Haas says. “The DMU students get a lot out of it, too, and are eager to do it.”
One of those students, Lucas Mihalovich, D.O.’15, grew up near Albia, so he understands the “importance and impact” of physicians in rural areas. “Events like this provide great hands-on learning and service to the community,” he says.
The annual tradition was the idea of Kenneth Britton, D.O.’79, who with a colleague offered the physicals in 1980; to expand the service, DMU students began volunteering the following year. Haas got on board when he began practicing in Albia in 1982.
“To our kids and their parents, the service is invaluable,” says Karen McCarty, R.N., nurse for Albia Community Schools, grades three through 12. “It’s so wonderful the DMU students come to help. We’re so happy to be part of their education, too.”
The community apparently appreciates Haas and his wife, Kristy, too. They recently were inducted in the Albia Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame in recognition of their longtime service and volunteerism in the area.