More than 650 people are expected to take advantage of the free health services offered at the McDuffie County Health Fair Saturday, April 16, at Thomson High School from 8 a.m. until noon.
This is the 28th year of the event that draws large numbers to Thomson for free health screenings. Last year, visitors came from as far away as Sparta, Louisville, Washington, Lincolnton, Sandersville, Greensboro, Athens, McCormick and Aiken, S.C.
"Some were even visiting family and friends in Thomson and were from Florida, Illinois and Maryland!," said Dot Cofer, organizer of the health fair.
Mrs. Cofer said she'd watched the event grow from a couple of tests and less than 100 people in attendance.
"We have certainly grown. This year we will have some 17 tests and screenings, doctor mini-lectures and 40 educational exhibits," she said.
Tests offered at no charge include, blood pressure, height, weight, lung function, bone density, hearing, vision, glaucoma, asthma screening, depression screening, anemia, diabetes screening, foot checks, blood typing, and other specialized tests.
"Those wishing the bone density test or foot checks should wear removable socks or knee hosiery, no pantyhose," said Mrs. Cofer.
Mrs. Cofer said organizers are excited about offering a test of the Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) blood chemistry with six heart calculations including HDL/LDL (good and bad cholesterol and tryglycerides) for an "amazingly low price" of $18, thanks to many contributors. For an additional charge of $6, a thyroid test is also available. A Prostate Cancer Test (PSA) is offered to men over 45. The cost for this is $14.
Mrs. Cofer pointed out that diabetics will receive their blood glucose reading in the CMP blood test, but they may wish to go a step further with the Hemoglobin A1C test ($14) that gives an average blood glucose reading for the past 3 months. This test fine-tunes the amount of control a person has been able to achieve.
"Doctors of diabetic patients really need to know the amount of glucose sticking to the red blood cells," said Mrs. Cofer. An overabundance of glucose leads to serious vessel problems."
A blood drawing fee of $3 will cover such costs as sending the results to both patient and doctor.
"Those interested in the blood test should not eat for eight to 12 hours before the test. Food will affect the cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose readings. But, should your schedule not allow fasting, other values are unaffected by food", said Mrs. Cofer. The CMP can still detect problems concerning the heart, liver, kidneys, chemical balance, gastro-intestional problems, electrolyte balance and others.
Mrs. Cofer offered this tip to make the day run smoothly.
"Even though the fair runs from 8 a.m. until noon, the busiest time for the blood chemistry is usually from 8 to 9 a.m.," she said. "If desiring the blood chemistry test, one may wish to get in that line after the rush. Just be sure you have your blood pressure taken before the blood work! That is a requirement. "
Thanks to local restaurants and grocery stores, a light snack will be provided for all having the blood chemistry test. There will also be a snack bar with inexpensive foods such as hamburgers and hot dogs.
Also, this year will be 30-minute mini-lectures by doctors.
"Since sleep apnea is such a dangerous problem, we have a sleep center specialist discussing sleep problems and an asthma and allergy specialist will discuss those topics. These lectures are scheduled for 10:30 a.m.," said Mrs. Cofer.
A wide variety of educational exhibits will be offered. Local health care agencies will be showing their services. Several professors from The Medical College of Georgia and physicians in private practice will be presenting such subjects as osteoporosis, hip and joint replacement, teen and children's developmental problems, various heart procedures, menopause, and Sickle Cell updates.
"This health fair is a little different from most fairs. First of all, I wanted to make it more educational," Mrs. Cofer said. "I feel that with education about a particular problem, one will not fear the problem and will seek medical attention earlier. A second factor built into this fair is personal safety. We will be presenting information on such things as personal safety while traveling, fire prevention and recognizing con artists. The AARP '55 Alive Program' will be explained and if there is interest, a class will be formed."
There is no admission charge for the health fair. For more information, call 595-2501.
"As you can see, even though you may not be interested in being tested, you will enjoy the educational exhibits," said Mrs. Cofer. "And, someone will win $100 in a drawing by having visited the educational booths."