Free health fair offered tests, treatments to many

Published 3:13 pm Thursday, July 20, 2017

Area residents received professional screenings and medical tests at the low, low cost of free Wednesday morning.

The Port Arthur Health Department and Beaumont Health Department held their first 2017 Community Health Fair at the Port Arthur Civic Center along with their business partners in the community.

Services included diabetes risk tests, blood pressure checks, BMI, hypertension, cholesterol and Hepatitis C screenings.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

According to Assistant Director of Health at the Port Arthur Health Department LaTasha Mayon, the event was made possible in part due to a special grant from the state — the State Partnership Initiative to Address Health Disparities (SPIAHD).

“The special grant helps individuals, primarily blacks and Hispanics with conditions that most affect them,” Mayon said.

Among the conditions are hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol and weight.

“The state recognizes that Hispanics and African-Americans are likely to have conditions like diabetes,” Billy Flores, health education nurse for Beaumont Public Health, said.

Beaumont Public Health workers assessed members of the public at the Community Health Fair and Port Arthur Health workers screened those members based on the assessment. Other business partners provided additional tests and/or information for individuals like HIV and gonorrhea checks.

Mayon made special mention of the health department’s office on 449 Austin Ave. where they offer primary health care for underinsured or uninsured Texas residents.

Those who qualify could receive a lab slip that would guarantee them reduced-cost lab work through the department including blood work, X-rays and a physician visit for an all-inclusive price of $15. She said prescriptions would be provided through low-cost pharmacies like Walmart.

According to Flores, in order to qualify, patients need only be Texas residents and meet the federal poverty level according to income and household size.

Both Mayon and Flores said they use social media like Facebook to get word out about any events and services offered by their respective health departments, in addition to the standard billings and flyers passed throughout the community.

Mayon said the Port Arthur Health Department hosts free diabetic education classes from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Tuesday at its offices on the second floor on Austin Avenue. Flores said the Beaumont Health Department offers similar classes from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. every Wednesday.

“Everything is free to the public with no charges to the person,” Flores said.

Mayon said the biggest challenge to offering affordable healthcare to the public is that most people don’t know it’s being offered in the first place.

“Most people don’t know we have it here. We have a fully functioning clinic.”

Mayon said, for instance, if a woman is approved for treatment and she’s underinsured or uninsured, her children would be approved as well for affordable treatment.

“The average person doesn’t know what’s available — and it’s your taxes that are paying for it,” Flores said.

Mayon said she hopes to do a health fair with the Beaumont Health Department at least every year, with the preferable schedule to be something offered every six months.