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Seniors turn out for health screening at the O’Neill Center

MARIETTA — Waves of seniors made their way through the halls of the O’Neill Center Tuesday to take advantage of a growing health partnership with Ohio University.

“Everyone deserves health care,” said Registered Nurse Katie Fleming, RN coordinator for the OU Community Health Programs and Area Health Education Center. “I do not track or bill insurance at all because we’re charged to serve the underserved, the underinsured and the uninsured. So I drive around 24 southeast Ohio counties and offer completely free health services with education at the core of all we do.”

This isn’t the first time the O’Neill Center has partnered with OU’s community health programs.

“We partnered with Ohio University’s community health program last year on a diabetes screening project,” said O’Neill Activities Coordinator Nancy Matheny.

“But that went so well, we were excited to connect again.”

Seniors present Tuesday took advantage of a free health screening clinic offered and reported back positive experiences.

“It was very informative, they did the cholesterol and blood sugar tests on me with just a finger prick and then I had high blood pressure so they said to come back again next month and later today, too, to keep an eye on it,” said Betty Lynch, 71, of Marietta. “I love that they’re trying to keep me on track and not just see me as a number.”

Linda Hughes, 66, of Lowell, said she also appreciated the free screening.

“When you get older the doctors always say to watch your numbers, but if you don’t know what they mean, or you don’t have a way to watch them until your next visit, what good does that do?” said Hughes. “Having this at the center was so accessible, and they sat and explained what my numbers meant to me. It was personal.”

The screening was offered by Fleming and Registered Nurse Tammie Hull as a means for checking blood glucose levels, blood cholesterol, and blood pressure, and to provide personalized education to seniors about what those levels mean, noting:

* Glucose is the primary source of energy for cells.

* High levels of glucose can cause damage to kidneys, eyes, nerves and blood vessels.

* Elevated triglycerides can be due to heredity, being overweight, inactivity, cigarette smoking, alcohol and high carb diets.

* Cholesterol is important in producing cell membranes, hormones and other bodily functions.

* Higher HDL or “good cholesterol” levels protect against heart disease.

* High LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels can indicate thick, hard, deposits or plaque which can narrow arteries and increase the risk for heart attack and stroke.

* Uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to stroke, cause heart, brain, eye, kidney and artery damage.

Fleming, of Cutler, said this education piece is especially dear to her heart.

“I live in this community, and I have a passion for making sure everyone has access to their health care, but if they don’t understand the root of what’s wrong they can’t make changes for their own well-being,” she explained. “We base all of our education on their personal results. We’ve even caught very high blood pressures before that needed critical care.”

O’Neill Assistant Activities Coordinator Heather Clark said the expanding partnership with OU isn’t the only health offering held within the walls of the center.

“We have partnerships with Marietta’s city health department, with Comfort Keepers, Stonerise, Housecalls Home Health, and Buckeye Hospice and Palliative Care, too,” she explained. “Those last three companies do blood pressure screenings with us monthly.

The center’s executive director, Connie Huntsman, said the health screening offerings are intentionally discreet to protect the seniors being served.

“We want to offer what our community needs and in a way they’re comfortable receiving, especially preventative, care,” she added.

Matheny said if local seniors missed Tuesday’s screening, they still have another chance before OU’s nurses next month on Oct. 22.

“You’re asked to fast from breakfast before the screening if you can, too,” added Clark. “That’s why we hold the screening clinic between 9 a.m. and noon.”

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

***

Upcoming Health Screenings

* All screenings are offered for free for seniors at the O’Neill Center, 333 Fourth St. Marietta.

* Oct. 2: Marietta City Health Department, blood sugar and pressure; 8:30 a.m.

* Oct. 3: Comfort Keepers, blood glucose and pressure; 8:30 a.m.

* Oct. 14: Stonerise at Home, blood pressure; 11 a.m.

* Oct. 17: Housecalls Home Health, blood pressure; 8:30 a.m.

* Oct. 21: Buckeye Hospice and Palliative Care, blood pressure; 11 a.m.

* Oct. 22: Ohio University Community Health Programs, blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure; 9 a.m.

Source: O’Neill Center

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