Friday, September 24, 2010

Navigating the Health Form, a Vital Step in Your Child's Safety

The health form is one of the most important aspects of enrolling with People to People Ambassador Programs. I asked Wendy Armes, our Supervisor of the Health and Safety Team, to shed light on the form - and our medical review process. The following is a guest blog post from Wendy (pictured at left). Enjoy!
- Mike Bowers, Senior Director of Health & Safety

The importance of a Health Form
Without question, filling out the health form is one of the most important steps in preparing your child for his/her upcoming adventure. Assessing health forms is one of several procedures we use to make sure your child is safe while on one of our life-changing travel programs. Our team requires a health form be submitted for every single student who will travel. Even our teacher leaders must submit this important form before they travel on one of our programs!

Why does this form matter? The health form provides parents or legal guardians the opportunity to disclose any medical conditions, allergies or dietary requests that affect the well-being of your child. This information is vital in preparing for your child to travel safely - and their safety is our number one priority.

[Above, a picture of the rest of our medical team members at a fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation: Kenna Powel, Mary Wilbur, Audra Krislock, Jeanne McKelvy and Viki Erdman]

In addition to past and present health conditions, we also ask for the following information:
  • Medical insurance: The insurance policy you purchase for the program is considered the primary provider while on program.

  • Emergency contact information: This is the phone number we will call (if necessary) while your student is on program.

  • Student’s cell phone number: Many of our students bring mobile phones on their travel experiences, and we keep their cell numbers on hand.

    Cell Phone Options: If you would like to rent a phone for the program - and be able to check in with your child at any time - we have a partner program that offers reasonable rates.

    Additionally, we offer phone options that allow you to track your child's adventure by a GPS device built into the phone. Alternatively, if you don't want your child to use a mobile phone during travel, you can subscribe to a service that tracks the teacher leader's phone via GPS. (Every People to People Ambassador Program delegation has a GPS phone on the program.)

  • Authorization: The form also has an authorization section that allows for People to People Ambassador Programs to seek medical treatment for your child, in the highly unlikely event it is needed during the program. This authorization also grants permission for the medical professional who treats your child, to share important information with us to help manage the situation.
What Happens After You Fill Out the Health Form?
After you submit a completed health form, your child's information is evaluated by our medical team. Based on the data provided on the form, the medical team decides whether or not a medical hold is necessary. (No one other than the medical team in the program office has access to this very private information.)

What’s a Medical Hold?
A "medical hold" means we need more information prior to clearing a student for travel. There are more than 300 medical conditions for which we diligently screen - not to deter your student from traveling, but to ensure that we clearly understand their needs before they travel.
  • If a student's form is placed on a medical hold, our medical team members contact the parents or guardians directly to collect additional information. They'll also take time to answer any questions or concerns. The medical team will work with personal physicians as needed, and ensure all leaders (and on-location site staff, if necessary) are aware of any reasonable accommodation our team has developed with the family.

  • If your child needs an accommodation: Our medical team is trained annually on Title III of the American with Disabilities Act Requirements (ADA). We will work directly with you to develop an accommodation that is unique and right for your child. The more time we have, the greater our options are for those accommodations. So we encourage you to contact us immediately if you believe your child will need a reasonable accommodation during travel.

  • Your Privacy Matters: We only share student health information on a “need to know basis,” and our staff is certified in HIPAA laws. Although our organization not required to follow HIPAA standards (we don't provide medical services like a hospital), we still uphold confidentiality standards to protect our students' privacy. We believe this is the right thing to do.
Health Form Due Dates - Beat the Rush!
Health forms are due to your primary leader no later than January 15th of each year. Keep in mind, we collect thousands of health forms every year; the sooner we get your student’s health form, the sooner we can clear him/her for travel. That's why we always tell parents to submit the health form immediately after enrolling your child.

We're Here to Answer Your Questions
Any parent or guardian considering their child's travel adventure will have questions about health and safety. We on the medical team are standing by to address those questions and provide peace of mind.

Please feel free to contact us at any point during this process. We have Spanish speaking staff on the team, and translators within the organization that speak most any language. You can contact our team by phone toll-free at 1-800-669-7882 ext 7555 or email us at

Our team is here to serve you, to learn, to accommodate and to assist in offering the best travel opportunity for your child!


Wendy Armes
Supervisor of Health & Safety and the Medical Team

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