Coon Rapids Allina clinic offers kids a prescription to succeed in school

For a little kid, going to the doctor means sitting in a small room with a stranger pressing on your tummy, poking something in your ear, looking down your throat and then sticking a needle in your arm. Not a fun time. Shrieks and cries provide background noise during most well-baby exams.

Bilingual children’s books are among thousands of books given to children seen by doctors for well-child exams at the Allina Medical Clinic in Coon Rapids. Books are available for distribution as part of the national Reach Out and Read program, funded locally by Infinite Campus.Photo by Sue Austreng

Bilingual children’s books are among thousands of books given to children seen by doctors for well-child exams at the Allina Medical Clinic in Coon Rapids. Books are available for distribution as part of the national Reach Out and Read program, funded locally by Infinite Campus.Photo by Sue Austreng

But thanks to a national program called Reach Out and Read, in addition to the necessary pokes and prods, pediatricians across the country are distributing children’s books to their little patients, too. That sobbing background noise has shifted to squeals of laughter and happy giggles.

“They’re so happy to get a book. They might be crying from the shot, but then the doctor gives them a book and they get this big smile,” said Anna Liashkovich, CMA at Allina Medical Clinic–Coon Rapids where she works in pediatrics.

The Coon Rapids Allina Medical Clinic is one of dozens in Minnesota and some 5,000 across the United States that have implemented the Reach Out and Read initiative, targeted at children as young as six months old.

Helping to ensure school readiness, Reach Out and Read partners with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together.

It’s a “prescription to succeed in school,” according to the Reach Out and Read website.

Thanks to a $24,000 donation by Charlie Kratsch, chief executive officer and founder of Infinite Campus, Allina Medical Clinic–Coon Rapids has been able to purchase thousands of children’s books and implement Reach Out and Read at the clinic.

Charlie Kratsch, chief executive officer and founder of Infinite Campus, flips through one of the thousands of children’s books his $24,000 donation was used to purchase to be distributed through the Reach Out and Read program at Allina Medical Clinic–Coon Rapids.Photo by Sue Austreng

Charlie Kratsch, chief executive officer and founder of Infinite Campus, flips through one of the thousands of children’s books his $24,000 donation was used to purchase to be distributed through the Reach Out and Read program at Allina Medical Clinic–Coon Rapids.Photo by Sue Austreng

Since August, more than 1,200 books have been distributed to pediatric patients there.

“The gift from Charlie Kratsch and Infinite Campus has made it possible for us to give books to the thousands of infants, toddlers and preschool-aged children from across the northwest metro area that we see every year, including many from families that might not otherwise have access to age-appropriate books for their children,” said Dr. Charles DeRubeis, a pediatrician at Allina Medical Clinic–Coon Rapids.

“Thanks to the generosity of Infinite Campus we now have the opportunity to help instill a love of reading in the lives of many young children, while at the same time promoting their cognitive and language development.”

Kratsch talked about what motivated him to support the Coon Rapids clinic’s Reach Out and Read program.

“Our business really is about kids,” he said. “We’re all about kids and we want to support local initiatives that support kids.”

Kratsch founded the Blaine-based Infinite Campus in 1993. The company develops software that helps manage student data and has become the largest American-owned student information system company in the country.

“When we had the opportunity to help get Reach Out and Read started at Coon Rapids Allina, we jumped right on board,” Kratsch said.

Infinite Campus’ donation to the Allina Medical Clinic doesn’t stop there, however. When Infinite Campus staff members volunteer to read to children in the clinic’s waiting room, Kratsch matches with a monetary contribution to Reach Out and Read.

“We’re just so happy to help out, getting books to all kids, getting them to love books, to love reading, to love learning. We’re all about kids, so this is a great fit,” Kratsch said.

To learn more about Reach Out and Read, visit www.reachoutandread.org.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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