02:55 AM

Traveling internationally? Take advantage of the CMH 'Healthy Departures' Clinic

If you're planning to travel internationally for business or pleasure, you probably know that your preparations should include a health check, which may include one or more vaccines.

However, you may not realize that your destination may require a more extensive and customized health plan than you anticipate. You also may not realize that right here at Children's Mercy, we have a resource that can take care of all those issues for you with ease, convenience, competitive cost and confidence. Healthy Departures, the CMH International Travel Medicine Clinic, is the only travel clinic in the Kansas City Region dedicated exclusively to the unique needs of children and teens, as well as the adults traveling with them.

One-stop shopping

Healthy Departures has a staff of three Travel Medicine board-certified providers and one medicine/pediatrics board-certified provider: Shirley Molitor-Kirsch, RN, MSN, CPNP-AC, Pediatric Nurse Practioner; Angela Myers, MD, MPH, Director-Travel Medicine Clinic; Chris Day, MD; and Russell McCulloh, MD. Whether your destination is Central America, South America, Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe or wherever, the staff can provide you and your children the pre-travel counseling, vaccinations, medications and all other requirements, with one-stop shopping.

"Our clinic has been open for four years, and our first premise was to meet the pediatric needs that weren't being met in the community," said Shirley. "Then we started seeing the parents and other adults who were traveling with the children. We recently have taken over the pre-travel consultations for CMH employees traveling on behalf of Children's Mercy, which was previously done by Occupational Health."

In addition to the convenience provided by a clinic located in the hospital, Healthy Departures will bill insurance for consultations. Private providers are likely to have higher clinic fees and typically won't bill insurance. Healthy Departures charges are equal to or lower than the Health Department, plus you won't have to go to your children's pediatrician or your primary care doctor for any additional medications.

Travel Medicine expertise

Dr. Myers said you also will have the peace of mind provided by the proficiency of the Healthy Destinations staff.

"I think a lot of pediatricians, especially those who don't do Travel Medicine a lot, don't have the expertise in it; Travel Medicine is fast changing, there is always something new and different that needs to be considered and reviewed with each patient."

Dr. Myers added that prospective travelers may know they need malaria prophylaxis for example, "But the majority of them don't have any idea they need a prescription medication for traveler's diarrhea, or that they need to know about food and beverage precautions, as well as country-specific safety concerns. Patients who choose to receive their travel-related vaccines at the Health Department do not receive counseling, nor is it often provided by primary care physicians."

Healthy Departures also has the benefit of experience: since the clinic began in May 2011, more than 750 patients have been seen and more than 1,200 vaccines have been administered.

Plan ahead

Typically Healthy Departures can make all arrangements with one visit; however, there are situations in which a particular vaccination needs to be given in repeated doses in order to develop full immunity. For that reason, the clinic asks that you schedule a visit at least a month, preferably six weeks, before a trip.

"There's no reason to wait until the last minute," Shirley said. Even if you're planning to travel internationally three months from now, it's never too early to get started. The big thing is to plan ahead."

Contact information

To schedule an appointment, call the clinic number: 816-802-1100, Monday-Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Appointments are available on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings, plus Friday afternoons.