More than 650 people are expected to take advantage of the free health services offered at the McDuffie County Health Fair Saturday, April 18, at Thomson High School, from 8 a.m. until noon.
This event draws large numbers to Thomson for free health screenings. Last year, visitors came from as far away as Sparta, Louisville, Washington, Lincolnton, Loganville, Sandersville, Greensboro, Athens, McCormick and Aiken, S.C.
"This year we will have some 17 tests and screenings, valued at over $800 if one visited the doctor offices, and over 30 educational exhibits," said Dot Cofer, retired Extension Service Home Economist and organizer of the fair which began under her direction some 32 years ago.
Tests offered at no charge include, blood pressure, height, weight, lung function, bone density, dental checks, hearing, vision, glaucoma, diabetic screening, depression screening, skin cancer and other specialized tests.
"Most people assume that osteoporosis is just a woman's problem but men are at risk of loosing calcium as they age. "Men should also have this test, for they also loose calcium and have weaker bones with age," said Mrs. Cofer.
"We are excited about the special feature of the health fair. We will have the ever-popular Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) blood chemistry that we have combined with 6 heart calculations (lipid panel) including HDL/LDL (good and bad cholesterol and triglycerides) for an amazingly low price, thanks to many community contributors. Doctors tend to recommend the CMP to their patients because it is the most comprehensive of the blood tests. For them to order a CMP at their office and have insurance pay for it, they have to have a 'probable cause' for ordering it. Otherwise, insurance will not pay for this large test," said Mrs. Cofer.
In addition to the regular glucose, etc., the CMP picks up problems with liver and kidney function and electrolytes for heart function in addition to other factors such as gastro-intestinal problems. Of course, this test also shows the lipid panel of cholesterol, HDL and LDL, and triglyceride. This test has a charge of $23. For a charge of $6, one can receive a thyroid test. A Prostate Cancer Test (PSA) is offered to men over 45. The cost for this is $14. (The PSA is part of the blood chemistry rather than a physical exam stated Mrs. Cofer.)
Mrs. Cofer pointed out that diabetics will receive their blood glucose reading in the CMP blood test, mentioned above, 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," added Mrs. Cofer.
An overabundance of glucose leads to serious vessel problems, kidney damage, eye damage, and neuropathy.
A blood drawing fee of $4 will cover costs as sending the results to both the patient and their doctor. Patients should be prepared to know their doctor's address if it is an out-of-town address.
"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, the other values are not affected by food," said Mrs. Cofer.
The CMP can still detect problems concerning the heart, liver, kidneys, chemical balance, gastro-intestinal problems, electrolyte balance etc.
Mrs. Cofer offered this tip to make the day run more smoothly.
"Even though the fair runs from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m., the busiest time for the blood chemistry is usually from 8 to 9 a.m. 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," said Mrs. Cofer.
Mrs. Cofer said she'd like to thank several local restaurants and grocery stores for providing a light snack for all participants having the blood chemistry test.
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 various health related topics.
"Of main interest will be the National Asthma Clinic's testing for asthma. Medical College of Georgia Doctors will be testing along with presenting a video lecture beginning at 10:30a.m. entitled "Asthma 101". This video will help caregivers in caring for the asthmatic person or give new developments in self-medication and care. Figures show that in the past 18 months there have been 13 children to die of asthma related problems in the McDuffie/Columbia/Richmond County area. This is alarming. I urge those parents of asthmatic children to please take this opportunity for education," stressed Mrs. Cofer.
"This health fair is a little different from most fairs. First of all, I wanted to make it more educational. 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 "Safe Driving Program" will be explained and if there is interest, a class will be formed." Have you ever needed to know Dog CPR? Well, we are in the process of scheduling the American Red Cross Dog CPR class!
"As you can see, even though you may not be interested in being tested, you will enjoy the educational exhibits", stated Mrs. Cofer. "And, someone will win $100 in a drawing by having visited the educational booths".
Thomson High is located in Thomson on White Oak Road, Highway 223, just east of the Thomson by-pass. Visitors should park in the student parking lot on the Augusta side of the school.
This event is without admission charge and is open for anyone interested. Testing stations are prepared to accommodate the needs of children, seniors and all adults. For more information, one may call 706-595-2501.