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Free screenings provide important health information

May 18, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • Gaynell Myers of Fairplay, right, has her blood pressure taken by Eric Feldman, a physician's assistant with Meritus Health Wednesday afternoon during a health fair at Hager Park Professional Center in Hagerstown.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — A drop of blood. A questionnaire. A scan of the foot.

With these simple tests, offered free at Hager Park Professional Center Wednesday afternoon, participants received important clues about their risk for serious health problems like heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis, organizers said.

The tests were offered by Meritus Health as part of a health-screening event aimed at improving the health of the community, Meritus spokeswoman Nicole Jovel said.

“We like to do our part to help people have access to health care who might not otherwise,” Jovel said. “Screenings are an important tool, and early detection in a lot of areas is key to good health.”

The blood test at the event was provided by Hagerstown Medical Lab and measured participants’ total cholesterol levels.

“Total cholesterol is the one test that’s most reliable in predicting heart disease,” Dr. John Newby said. “An elevated total cholesterol means you have a serious chance of developing heart disease, or you have heart disease.”

Patients with high cholesterol should talk to their primary-care doctors about diet modifications and potential medications, Newby said.

Hagerstown Medical Lab representative Jane Anderson said midway through the event that the flow of patients into the screening had been steady.

“We had people already here at 11:30, and we didn’t start until 12,” she said.

Some patients who took advantage of the screenings did not have primary-care doctors, Anderson said.

Others, like Gretchen Graves of Hagerstown, go to the doctor regularly, but took advantage of the opportunity for an extra check between visits.

Graves said she takes medication for high cholesterol, but went off the medication because she wants to have a baby and was eager for an opportunity to check her cholesterol for free.

“I think it’s wonderful,” she said of the screening event.

Holding the screening in the Hager Park Professional Center was also a good opportunity to spread the word about the medical services available there, Jovel said.

The professional center, on East Antietam Street near the former Washington County Hospital site, is now home to Meritus’s Downtown Urgent Care center, as well as a pharmacy, medical lab, and other medical offices.

Another opportunity for free health screenings will be at a June 11 grand-opening celebration at the urgent care center, Jovel said. That event runs from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 324 E. Antietam Street and will feature blood-pressure screenings, ear checks and height, weight and body-mass- index measurements.

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