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Audrey Hall, MD: Specializing in pediatric care at Kaiser Permanente’s Briargate Medical Offices

By: Interview by Hannah Blick, hannah.blick@gazette.com
April 12, 2016 Updated: April 12, 2016 at 12:31 pm
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Pulse is a quarterly Gazette medical publication that highlights the survivors, volunteers and physicians who make our city a strong and healthy place to live.

Kaiser Permanente Colorado, the state’s largest nonprofit health plan, added pediatrics to its Briargate Medical Offices in Colorado Springs last year, strengthening and diversifying the care it offers to families in southern Colorado.

What attracted you to working with Kaiser Permanente in Colorado Springs?

I’m a Colorado native and have lived in Colorado Springs with my family since 2004. For 10 years I was active duty in the United States Air Force, stationed at both the United States Air Force Academy and Peterson Air Force Base, serving as a pediatrician. I’m still in the reserves and appreciate my military connection. When the opportunity came up to work with Kaiser Permanente, I knew it would be a perfect fit, since it allows me to continue serving families in our community, including many with military connections.

I’ve been with Kaiser Permanente over one year and have had the privilege of pioneering its pediatric practice in southern Colorado. I enjoy collaborating with Kaiser Permanente pediatricians in other areas of Colorado, as well as utilizing local resources, including county programs. Kaiser Permanente places such value on caring for our community health holistically, from getting involved in fundraising 5K races to sponsoring local events. I’m proud to serve my city through Kaiser Permanente.

 

How does pediatric health affect our community?

I went into pediatrics to be able to provide preventive services and resources for the families and children I serve. For example, Kaiser Permanente makes nutritional education and information available to help its families fight pediatric obesity, an epidemic that’s affecting every corner of our nation.

It’s important to the team at Kaiser Permanente that we help local families understand the significance of developing healthy habits from day one. Healthy kids mean healthy families, which leads to healthy cities and better futures for everyone. Our network of physicians is highly dedicated to being visible in the community so that we can act as a support system for parents and caregivers navigating raising the next generation.

 

What are the perks of having a family pediatrician?

There are so many benefits to having a knowledgeable person – both when it comes to your situation and your child’s health – walking with your family through life. Whether your child is healthy, occasionally sick, or struggles with chronic illness, a pediatrician can assist with preventive intervention, tracking development and growth and even planning for long-term health needs. I just started seeing a newborn whose mother is a former patient of mine, and it’s been wonderful to have that continuity, for all of us.

I believe there are exceptional benefits to having teenagers see a pediatrician, as well. Teens are still growing, and it’s such a transitional time for them, physically and emotionally. There are still recommended vaccinations up to age 18, not to mention sports medicine considerations. I think it’s a great opportunity to care for their specific needs before sending them off to college or out into the world as adults.

 

How can local families develop healthy habits together?

There are a number of simple ways your family can fight chronic health issues, obesity, and seasonal illness. For example, dinner together a few nights a week can go a long way in developing healthy physical and relational habits. This is a chance for parents to model healthy eating habits and take the time to check in on the well-being of their children. I have three teenagers, so I completely understand the struggle of making this happen – life gets busy with work and school activities. We do our best to eat dinner together at least three evenings a week, and in between, I like to take my kids to the farmer’s market, to show them where their food comes from and give them a breadth of dietary options.

I also encourage parents to limit screen time for kids to about two hours or less daily, keeping in mind time spent doing homework on the computer. Going on daily walks or bike rides is also a great way to model being active regularly. KP.org has a lot of excellent resources for parents to explore developing healthy habits with their kids.

 

How can caregivers keep children healthy this spring?

It’s still cold and flu season, and vaccination is always the primary way to prevent many illnesses from spreading. I encourage my families to get their flu vaccines annually. Keep in mind simple actions like regular hand washing and using tissues can go a long way. Kids are still going to get sick – at school, daycare, from friends. This is when I advise parents to keep them home, to prevent the spread of germs.

There have been a lot of headlines on the Zika virus this year, particularly in regards to its risk to pregnant women. It’s certainly good to increase awareness of illnesses like this among the pediatric population, but from my perspective, I don’t want families to feel too panicked about something they don’t fully understand. If you have questions or concerns, please talk to your pediatrician or find more information on the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions website: cdc.gov.

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