Free Health Checks, Info Offered At Health Fair

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If you've been using a low-income level as your primary reason for not getting a health check-up, that excuse will officially expire with Saturday's Community Health Fair 2001 wherein a dozen medical tests and screenings will be offered to attendees free of charge.

"This event is for everyone, but it's principally for people who don't have insurance, don't have a doctor, can't afford to go to a doctor or who, for whatever reason, never visit a doctor," said Phyllis Spradlin, the business manager for Mogollon Health Alliance, a co-sponsor of the fair along with the Payson Lions Club, RTA Hospice and Payson Regional Medical Center.

New additions to the lineup of free tests to be offered during the fair's third edition are oxygen saturation screening (to determine oxygen levels in the blood), lower extremity circulation screening (to look for signs of diabetes) and fecal occult blood screening (to check for possible cancers, such as colon cancer).

The only charge at the event will be for blood tests for CMP+, cholesterol, glucose and prostate cancer, which will cost $10 for women and $15 for men.

"The results of these tests can tell people a lot about their health status," Spradlin said. "They can reveal serious problems, so people can then go to a personal physician and get themselves fully checked out."

In addition to the medical tests, the Community Health Fair allows one-on-one discussions with doctors and medical personnel, as well as representatives from such health-related organizations as Alcoholics Anonymous.

There will be one service offered at previous health fairs that will not be offered at this year's gathering: flu shots.

"Last year, we ended up at the last minute not getting the vaccine, and many people came only for flu shots," Spradlin said. "Of course, they were all furious. So we decided not to do it this year, because supplies are still short and we didn't know if we were going to be able to get it. But we also wanted to attract people who are interested in all of the other reasons to attend, not just to get a flu shot."

The Payson Lions Club started promoting a local health fair in 1999 when they heard of the great success the Prescott Lions Club had been having with the idea for nearly two decades. In its first year, the event drew some 451 people, and last year that number grew to more than 500.

That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that, this year, registration for many of the various screenings is already at or near capacity.

"For example, we can take about three blood draws every five or 10 minutes," Lions Club member George Spears said, "and we've got those slots just about filled up until noon, when we're scheduled to stop. What I've been telling people is that, if they (fail to register), to come to the health fair anyway. There might be someone who misses their appointment, and you might be able to squeeze into the schedule that way."

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