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Clinic helps residents gauge their health

8/16/2013

By KALEY CONNER

kconner@dailynews.net

The office was supplied with blood-pressure cuffs, glucose tests and even eye exam equipment. But this was not your typical medical clinic.

Rather, the tests were offered in a 35-foot-long trailer decorated with Kansas scenes -- a buffalo, a tractor, a windmill. Parked in front of Walgreens at 27th and Vine, the mobile screening unit seemed to be drawing plenty of attention.

Hays resident Anthony Pfeifer decided to take advantage of the free health checkup after stopping at Walgreens for a quick errand.

"I had read about it, and I said, 'I think I should do that,' " he said. "But then it's just another busy day. I just needed something at Walgreens, and I said, 'Well, here it is. Let's get it done.' "

The mobile screening unit, sponsored by the Kansas Lions Sight Foundation, offered complimentary tests for vision, hearing, blood pressure and blood glucose levels. Volunteers from Hays Lions Club and First Care Clinic conducted the screenings and offered education and referrals if a medical problem was detected.

Charis Brooks, a dentist from First Care, also offered free dental screenings and distributed oral health supplies.

"It's a great way to just be available for people in the community," she said.

By 11 a.m., just three hours after the unit had opened, several people tested had discovered their blood sugar was too low, said Deanna Bombardier, patient care coordinator at First Care.

Bombardier offered tips to improve diets and referrals to the medical clinic if they did not have access to care.

"We've also had a couple of people who are not currently in the medical care system; they don't have a provider," she said. "So we've done some teaching about routine screenings and provided them with First Care Clinic."

First Care Clinic is a federal safety net that receives some public funding to care for the uninsured. The clinic offers medical and dental services.

Also early Thursday, the auditory tests confirmed a young child was having significant difficulties hearing.

"She came to us, we tested her twice; she bombed," said Warren Shaffer, president of Hays Lions Club. "High range and low range were the worst I've ever seen, and I've done this now for a couple of years."

The girl immediately was referred to a local physician for treatment.

"It does what it's supposed to do," Schaffer said of the unit's mission to detect early signs of medical problems.

A slow but steady stream of visitors filed into the trailer through Thursday morning. Among them were Hays resident Marlene Windholz and her daughter, Alisha, who just had finished her first day of kindergarten.

"I just mainly want to have her vision and hearing checked, because it will be several weeks before they get it done at school," Marlene Windholz said. "This way, I know the eyes and ears are working for the classroom."

The mobile screening unit visits more than 50 Kansas locations in a typical year. It is operated by Mulvane resident Dan Heersche, who spends a considerable amount of time on the road and maintains the equipment.

The service usually draws a good crowd, he said, noting it has stopped in Hays for several consecutive years.

"It's not a matter of how many people we actually see; it's how many people did you actually help," Heersche said. "If you saw one that you helped, then you've made your weekend."