COMMUNITY: Uninsured get free health screening

COMMUNITY • BY MAX BENNETT

Montgomery County residents took advantage of free health screenings and health education, taking away knowledge and insight to their own well-being and how to stay healthy.

The African American Health Program partnered with the Washington Adventist Hospital, bringing a day of free screenings, as well as health education literature, to Montgomery County residents.

The fair drew in 40 residents, primarily adults, from the African American and Latino communities, according to event spokesperson and AAHP Community Outreach and Health Promotion Program Coordinator Msache Mwaluko.

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The screenings determine whether or not it is necessary to see a healthcare provider for more screenings and treatment.

Some residents, however, do not have health care providers.

“We do not recommend specific providers,” said Mwaluko. “If they do not have a healthcare provider, we link them to our community clinics.”

She said the AAHP helps residents without healthcare providers find Montgomery Cares clinics closest to their home or workplace.

The program features 30 clinics in Montgomery County, including services at Community Clinic, Inc. at 7676 New Hampshire Ave. in Takoma Park.

The Department of Health and Human Services is offering the services provided by the Montgomery Cares Program.

The program helps uninsured adults obtain healthcare services who meet the requirements set by the program.

Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services Diversity Outreach Coordinator Luis Martinez offered attendees information regarding various healthcare services.

Martinez said the department’s work spreading word about the Affordable Care Act, more commonly know as Obamacare, is one of their highest priorities.

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“Our department is the leader in what we call the Capital region,” Martinez said. “We are responsible for outreach and enrolling people in Montgomery County and Prince George’s county.”

Martinez said with the county’s role as a leader in the area, giving residents knowledge of Obamacare, as well as ability to enroll in the new program, is one of their biggest undertakings yet.

“We have maybe 30 different places with assistors and navigators that can assist the people in enrolling in the new healthcare market,” Martinez said.

Martinez also had information regarding senior services, mental health, victims of sexual assault, foster care, and income support programs among other services.

“We are very busy,” Martinez said with a laugh.

CASA de Maryland offered lots of health information all in Spanish for the non-English speaking attendees as well.

CASA de Maryland is a Latino and immigration advocacy group that promotes high quality of life and equal treatment for low-income Latinos and their families.

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Osteoporosis screenings gave the residents a chance to see their t-scores, the metric used to determine bone density.

University of Maryland senior Zachary Gilbert, who studies community health in the School of Public Health, volunteered at the screening area and explained t-score ranges.

“Anything bigger than -1.0 is good,” Gilbert said. “Between -1.0 and -2.5 is called osteopenia, which is kind of like pre-hypertension but pre-osteoporosis.”

Gilbert said at that point the bones are becoming somewhat brittle.

“Less than -2.5 is where you have osteoporosis,” Gilbert said.

Juliette Hope is a nurse who volunteered at the blood pressure screening booth.

Hope said they categorized residents’ by their blood pressure results and inform residents if they should seek further treatment or not.

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Hope said she also was gathering information for the county to use for population health analysis.

“This is our first time [at Washington Adventist Hospital] so we really are doing it small,” Mwaluko said. “Hopefully next year we will expand to bigger numbers.”

Last week’s Heart Health Screening and Education fair at Holy Cross Hospital was canceled the due to the snowstorm.

The Heart Health Screening and Education Fair is an annual event hosted by the AAHP and has been providing screenings and information to residents since 2007.

The AAHP was founded in 1999 as a part of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services with the goals of eliminating health disparities and improving the lives of African Americans and people of African descent in Montgomery County.

About the Author

Max Bennett
Max Bennet is from Sayre, Pa. He earned his bachelors degree in English from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania in 2011. After graduating he worked as a copy editor and sports stringer for the Morning Times in Sayre. He currently is working towards a masters degree in journalism at University of Maryland, College Park.