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Tests create awareness, help catch illnesses in the early stages

Hospitals’ preventive screenings make difference in community

Metro Jackson hospitals’ focus on preventive screenings continues to make a difference in the health of Central Mississippians, especially people who live in underserved communities.

“Because we’re concerned about keeping the community healthy, not just about taking care of them when they need us, we offer our health screenings free of charge,” said Becky Martin, spokesperson for Central Mississippi Medical Center (CMMC).

At numerous health fairs held throughout the year, CMMC offers screenings for blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol. For larger organizations, screenings include bone density, balance and hearing.

Next March, Super D Drugs and WLBT plan to partner with CMMC to offer free colorectal cancer screening kits, which physician Ken Buran guaranteed will make an “absolutely significant” clinical impact on the health of the community.

“Colorectal cancer screening has been proven beneficial in that it markedly reduces deaths from colorectal cancer,” said Buran of Hinds Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology. “This is because the illness is caught in an early curable stage, such as a polyp, rather than a later, more advanced stage that is often the case when the diagnosis is made with the onset of symptoms. The chance of cure in that setting is much less likely.”

CMMC’s calendar of events highlights heart screenings on Healthy Heart Day in April, free hearing screenings in May, and free prostate screenings in September. Educational material on breast self-exams is promoted heavily in April and October. Next February, the hospital will host a seminar for women, “At the Heart of It All.”

Because of the tremendous demand for Baptist Health Systems’ Heart Day program, Baptist Heart Services expanded the program to Every Day is Heart Day. From Monday through Friday, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., Baptist Heart Services offers the following screenings for $25 for adults 18 and older: electrocardiogram (EKG), blood chemistry profile, triglyceride and total cholesterol testing (LDL and HDL), cardiac risk analysis, stroke/hypertension screening and BMI measurement. Twelve-hour fasting is required for accurate blood tests.

“We did this because 61% of participants screened have been women, and 60% of those women were identified as having multiple risk factors for heart disease,” said Sandra Holman, the community nurse manager with Baptist Health Services who oversees all screenings.

After completion of the initial screening in the Every Day program, women who are assessed with an increased risk for heart disease may opt for the one-hour Heart and Soul package for $45, which includes a comprehensive physician exam, an in-depth lab and EKG review, intensive risk factor modification including healthy eating tips, exercise recommendations, cholesterol education, smoking cessation and stress management, a pedometer, BMI and waist circumference and referrals as needed for definitive diagnosis and treatment.

The 25-minute Follow My Heart package, designed for women who want to remain heart healthy, costs $30 and includes a three- to six-month follow up, BMI and waist circumference, blood pressure measurement, fasting lipid panel, risk factor review and referrals as needed.

Baptist Health Systems also offers Protect and Detect Cancer screenings for $25 each at the Hederman Cancer Center. In addition to an examination of the neck, mouth, lymph nodes and skin, women receive a pap smear, clinical breast exam, pelvic exam, instruction on proper techniques for breast self-exam and, depending on their age, a digital rectal exam and a fecal occult blood test. Men receive a testicular exam, proper instruction for a testicular self-exam and an age-appropriate digital rectal exam and prostate specific antigen. The nurse practitioner provides instant feedback on physical exam results. A recommended Healthy Lifestyle Plan is drafted for each participant.

For $20, smokers and former smokers 40 years and older may participate in the Test Your Lungs screening in Baptist’s Respiratory Services Department. Participants blow into a spirometer, which measures the volume of air that can be forcefully exhaled. A licensed respiratory therapist conducts the simple non-invasive test, which gives immediate feedback on conditions possibly related to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the World Health Organization.

“Screenings are not intended to take the place of regular examinations and visits with healthcare professionals,” said Holman. “They do serve as an entry level for many into the health community. The reported results and supplemental educational advice can guide the individual to resources that will assist them in maintaining or improving their overall health status.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at lwjeter@yahoo.com.


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