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Health Fair coming to Perry County

The second in a series of Black Belt health fairs is poised to make a difference in the lives of Perry County residents this Saturday.

The Community Care Network (CCN), a Montgomery-based nonprofit organization that has worked since 2000 to provide medical screenings to those in need, will bring its Care-A-Van to Marion’s Perry County Health Department Saturday as part of a bevy of free medical services offered to county residents.

“Basically, what we do is bring doctors to the people who need to see them,” says the CCN’s Karina Polen-Davis. “We try to get as many people involved as we can for the community.”

In this case, the CCN has gotten plenty of people involved.

“We’ll have Dr. Butler’s Smiles of Grace vehicle there to offer dental screenings. Someone will be there [from the Black Belt Eye Consortium] to do eye screenings. We’ll be able to do bone-density testing, which gauges for the women tested the strength of their bones, and helps determine if they’re at risk for osteoporosis,” said Debra Huntley, coordinator the CCN’s health fairs. “We’re very excited. We’re anticipating having 8 doctors on hand to help.”

Additional specialized screenings include a cholesterol check and a glucose test to detect the possibility of diabetes.

In addition to these screenings, residents can also go through a basic “triage” process to check for issues like high blood pressure or respiratory problems.

“We do a general info screening,” says Polen-Davis, “and if there’s anything we might notice, the patient is referred to a doctor who’ll go over the results with individual patients.”

Polen-Davis said that if the possibility exists for follow-up medical supervision from a local physician, health fair attendees can receive samples of medication on the spot to begin treatment. Like all of the health fair’s services, the medication would be provided without cost to the patient.

“All our screenings and any medication dispensed at the fair is provided absolutely free of charge,” said Dr. Leon Davis, founder of CCN. Davis added that the CCN’s expansion into the Black Belt from there Montgomery roots is a badly needed move for Alabama’s health.

“The major problem,” he says, “is that people are just unaware. If you don’t know you’ve got diabetes or high blood pressure, you’re not going to do anything about it. Out in these areas, there’s just not enough physicians to take care of everyone. We want to bring care and medicine to the people that need it.”

Of course, the people that need it still have to leave their homes to make the fair and get screened. To that end, the CCN has coordinated with Samford University’s chapter of the Omega Delta Kappa leadership organization to hold a FunFest on the Marion Military Institute campus, in conjunction with the fair and the Samford-sponsored Old Howard 100 bike ride. The FunFest will feature a number of activities for children, such as an inflatable “MoonWalk”-style attraction. An outdoor grill will be fired up to serve fairgoers free low-fat hot dogs, and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables will be available for free snacks (it is a health fair, after all).

“We this to be a family event,” said Huntley. “The health fair and the FunFest and the bike ride are all wrapped up in one big package.”

The Perry health fair is the second in a series of 12 CCN fairs to be held in the Black Belt this year. The fair will return to the Times coverage area with a Sumter County fair on June 18, and then one in Marengo on August 20. Hale and Greene fairs are planned for later in the year.

“It’s a great opportunity,” says Huntley. “We’re taking the challenge from the Black Belt Action Commission and trying to make a difference.”