November 12, 2008 Edition

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Health fair offers free screenings

Raul Blasini (right) visits with Dr. Harold Willmuth, a Kiwansis Club member, about the Lawrence County Health Fair planned for Saturday morning at the community center in Walnut Ridge. The Kiwanis Club, various sponsors and several area health agencies, are combining efforts to put on the health fair.
The first Lawrence County Health Fair will be held Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon at the community center in Walnut Ridge. Several area healthcare providers, along with many sponsors and individuals, are joining together to provide Lawrence County area residents with a free and comprehensive health fair and screening.

Screenings are planned for prostate cancer, breast cancer, cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, lung function, vision and hearing, as well as free tetanus shots.

The Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation will be providing free screenings for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer screenings are recommended for men age 35 and older or with a family history of prostate cancer. The screenings include a PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test and a DRE (digital rectal exam).

Lawrence Memorial Hospital will be providing free mammograms to screen for breast cancer. While a limited number of screenings will be available the day of the health fair, certificates for a free mammogram will be given to allow women to make an appointment for the mammogram at the hospital through December. This service is available for women age 40 and over or with a family history of breast cancer.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital will also be offering screenings for blood sugar and will be testing lung function. The Community Healthcare Center will be offering free cholesterol screenings, while the Lawrence County Health Department will be giving free tetanus shots. Black River Technical College nursing students will be giving blood pressure checks.

The Vision Care Center will give vision screenings, while the Paragould Hearing Aid Center will provide hearing tests. Raul Blasini of Pocahontas, who is retired from the military, and John Bland, publisher of The Times Dispatch, have coordinated plans for the county health fair.

Blasini has organized successful health fairs and screenings annually for the past seven years in Pocahontas. He is also organizing a health fair in Corning on Dec. 6.

"I like helping people, and so many people can't afford to pay for medical tests," Blasini said.

He is a prostate cancer survivor of almost 12 years and served on the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation Board for the past six years.

At the seventh annual prostate screening and health fair in Pocahontas this past September, over 500 people attended and 182 men were screened for prostate cancer, Blasini said. Fifty free mammograms were also given away. "In the last seven years at Pocahontas, eight to 10 percent of men screened have had a high PSA or an irregular DRE," Blasini said.

"I know of seven people who found out they had prostate cancer through the screenings, and they followed up with treatment."

"The earlier diagnosed, the better chance of surviving," he added.

For more information contact Raul Blasini at 870-926-3894, The Times Dispatch at 886-2464 or the Center on Aging-Northeast at 1-800-745-0557.

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