Incentives entice adolescent wellness visits


By Sue Cody


Everyone wants their adolescents to be healthy, and one way to ensure that is to have an annual wellness exam. The Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization (CCO) has found a creative way to encourage young people 12 to 21 to see a primary caregiver. If they attend a Student Wellness Activities and Games (SWAG) event, they will receive a$25 gift cards and other items.


By offering fun events, clinics are raising awareness and participation in wellness visits. Last year’s SWAG events increased adolescent checkups by 9 percent over the previous year, says Maranda Varsik, primary care innovation specialist at CareOregon and Columbia Pacific CCO.


Clinics create their own atmosphere with music, games, decorations, pizza, hands-on activities and, of course, swag. Just for getting a checkup through the SWAG program, adolescents can receive a $25 gift card to Amazon, iTunes or selected retailers. Each receives a drawstring backpack with headphones, sunglasses, Frisbees and pens.


The teenage years are a time of major transitions, when it is important to identify health issues and potential risky behaviors. Adolescents are experiencing dramatic physical, cognitive, social and emotional changes.


Many teens only visit a physician when they are sick, have an injury or need a sports physical. But the SWAG events expand on that to encourage preventive care. The CCO and most insurance companies cover yearly wellness visits.


SWAG events have three components, says Varsik

  • History, physical and developmental screenings
  • Anticipatory guidance: Education so parents know what to expect in growth and development of their child
  • Physical exam


A visit with a primary provider is a good time to raise concerns that wouldn’t be covered in sports physicals, Varsik says. Often depression and anxiety slip under the radar of parents and other caring adults. A wellness visit may open the door to a conversation or lead to a connection with valuable resources. Sometimes, just talking to a professional can normalize the feelings a teen may have.


Providers use a series of adolescent assessments, screening for behavioral health, anxiety, depression and other mood disorders. Some questions are centered on behaviors around drug and alcohol use.


During a visit, immunizations can be updated. Growing awareness about (HPV human papillomavirus) and its link to cancer, has led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to encourage immunizations for preteens and teens. ( Some clinics offer additional vision, hearing, nutrition and dental screening.


Varsik says SWAG events offer an opportunity to check in on wellness and create healthy behaviors in the future.


See a related article on well-child and teen visits at


Call for an appointment at upcoming SWAG events in Tillamook and Columbia County:

Tillamook County Community Health Center, 801 Pacific Ave Tillamook, 503-842-3938

  • Aug. 2, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Rinehart Clinic, 230 Rowe Street Wheeler, 800-368-5182

  • Aug. 8, 1 to 6 p.m.



    Public Health Foundation of Columbia County, (Rainier), 28168 Old Rainer Road, Rainer, 503-556-2178

  • Aug. 9, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 11, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 15, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.


Public Health Foundation of Columbia County, (Sacagawea), 1060 Eisenschmidt Lane St. Helens, 503-366-7645

  • Aug. 10, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 14, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.


OHSU Scappoose, 51377 SW Old Portland Road, Scappoose, 503-418-4222

  • Aug. 9, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 10, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 11, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 14, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 15, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Adolescent Health Exams