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Connecting people to health care: Community Health Screening Program celebrates fifth anniversary and prepares for March 19 event

March, 10, 2015

Some partnerships are so successful they are worth celebrating—especially ones that improve the lives of Ada County residents in a big way.

That’s the story behind the Ada County/ Idaho State University Community Health Screening Program which has served more than 750 uninsured and underserved adults since March 2010.  Other partners are the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and Central District Health.

“The program has been successful on many layers. We’re reaching adults who don’t have medical insurance or who don’t have providers, and we’re getting them connected to health care,” said screening co-organizer Dr. Glenda Carr, clinical assistant pharmacy professor at the ISU-Meridian Health Science Center. 

The next screening—the last until fall— is Thursday, March 19, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the ISU-Meridian Health Science Center, 1311 E. Central Drive. Ada County Commissioners have signed a proclamation to designate March 19 as Community Health Screening Day in honor of the program’s fifth anniversary and to encourage eligible adults 18 and older to participate.  Appointments are not necessary.

ISU-Meridian clinical faculty and health professions students will administer the free services which include:

  • Basic physical exams
  • Blood pressure checks, medication reviews and disease education
  • Dental evaluations
  • Traumatic brain injury screenings
  • Depression and alcohol screenings and questionnaires
  • On-site testing for blood sugar levels, cholesterol and HIV  
  • Hearing and eye screenings
  • Nutrition assessment and recommendations
  • Health education
  • Flu shots and hepatitis C screenings

This year, clinicians have screened 119 people and referred at least 80 percent to free, low-cost or ISU clinics for follow-up care.  Participants with an immediate health issue—such as diabetes, high blood pressure or a dental emergency—are given appointments on the spot at community clinics that have partnered with the screening program, said screening co-organizer Rick Tivis, an ISU-Meridian associate professor and assistant director of the Idaho Center for Health Research.

The intent of the screenings is prevention—identify a health problem early before an uninsured or indigent patient lands in the hospital emergency room with a serious illness and a hefty bill the county ends up paying.

Ada County kicks in $7,500 a year to fund supplies and equipment for the screenings. Faculty and students volunteer their time—with student clinicians gaining hands-on experience and learning the importance of collaborating with other health professionals when delivering patient care.

"In the program’s five year history, the free health screenings have reached hundreds of county residents who may otherwise not have been able to afford to obtain these important services,” said Ada County Commission Chairman Jim Tibbs.  “With health care being an ever-growing concern in our nation and in Idaho, this program is a tremendous accomplishment that Ada County is proud to support.”

While it’s difficult to determine if the screening program has eased the county’s indigent caseload, screening organizers believe it has helped, given the number of potentially life-threatening cases they’ve addressed.

“The truth is if we are successful with just one person, it’ll cover the cost of the screening program for 20 years,” said Tivis, noting that a minor health issue left untreated can spiral into an illness or disease that can cost thousands of dollars to treat.

 

For more information about the March 19 screening, call 373-1700 or email healthyU@isu.edu.

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