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Kaleb Goldbar, 15, right, opens wide for physician Matt Klippenstein during an exam at the Missoula Urban Indian Health Center on Monday. The health center offered free sports physicals to Native American teens and youth on Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Goldbar, a Valley Christian student, hopes to play basketball, football and tennis this coming school year. 

High school students in need of a physical to play a fall sport can get a free one at the Missoula Urban Indian Health Center on Tuesday.

The center, 830 W. Central Ave., is offering free sports physicals and vaccines as students prepare for the new school year.

To play a school-sponsored sport, most schools require students to have a recent physical, meaning after the month of April, said Starlite Night Gun, a registered nurse with the health center. But Medicaid pays for just one physical a year, so students who had their Well-Child exam before April would have to pay for a second physical in order to play a sport, Night Gun said.

So in 2015, the center began offering free sports physicals and vaccines as part of a partnership with Family Medical Residency Program of Western Montana. The students working for the residency program get to perform some of the medical checks, under the supervision of a doctor.

When the program was held the first year, they saw about 25 students in one day, Night Gun said. Since then, the program has expanded to two days, and last year the center performed physicals on about 45 students.

Kaleb Goldbar, 15, a student at Valley Christian School, signed up for a physical at the center Monday. He wants to play football this fall, basketball this winter and tennis in the spring. Goldbar was one of about 13 students who got physicals before 1 p.m. Monday.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana Care Van was at the center Monday to help with the vaccines, said Jamey Petersen, care van administrator. Blue Cross reimburses the center for the cost of vaccines as part of the van program.

The van will be in Missoula for the two days the center is offering the free physicals and vaccines before it heads to Great Falls and Havre later this week, Petersen said.

The physicals and vaccines are available to infants all the way up to high school age students. Walk-ins are welcome and the center asks parents to bring in their children's immunization records.

People looking for more information about the Missoula Urban Indian Health Center may call 406-829-9515, Ext. 102.

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