Local effort to change minority health stats - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local effort to change minority health stats

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- When it comes to health care, statistics show minorities are more likely to be uninsured, which means many forego trips to the doctor and miss out on possibly live-saving early detection and treatment.

Hundreds of local health vendors provided free screenings Saturday to thousands of people at the Minority Health Fair at East Gate Town Center in Chattanooga in an effort to save lives and change those statistics locally.

From diabetes, allergy and spine tests to dental cleanings and mammograms, it was all offered for free.

"To be able to actually have people, you know, doctors checked my blood pressure today," Melanie Goldstein said.

More than 2,000 people jumped at the chance to get checked out without opening their wallets.

"It just shows you the need that people have for primary healthcare in our community by the number of people who come," Moses Freeman said.

It's a cause close to Moses Freeman's heart, who says he quite possibly owes his life to this fair.

"I had some veins that were clogged-- calcification. If they had not discovered that I more than likely would've had a stroke or heart attack," Freeman said.

"At least if they know about it, they can somehow address those things in their life," organizer Karen Romine said.

Organizers say the event has grown from a crowd of a couple hundred in Brainerd High School to an entire mall-full of people getting not just screened, but also educated on health risks.

"There are definite facts that state that African-Americans have a higher rate of diabetes, cancer and heart disease," Romine said.

Diabetic Earlene Tate says she's learned a lot about her condition and how to help family members with it. It's the first year she's known about the free clinic.

"I thought maybe there was something else in here that I could learn to be a benefit to me. I think it's wonderful with blood pressure and diabetes checks -- all of these different things," Earlene Tate said.

Since his life saving surgery, Freeman is now volunteering his time to get the word out on how important it is to be aware.

"It makes me feel super great to know that people come here, some of them without healthcare to get all the screenings," Freeman said.

The event was aimed at minorities, because of their likelihood to have several conditions and to be uninsured or under-insured, but it was open to anyone.

Organizers say for each person, it saved at least $200 in lab tests, plus dental and other specialty services. They're already planning for next year.
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