Getting the care they need: Free Men’s Health Screening

Published 11:50 am Monday, June 25, 2018

By Lorenzo Salinas


Men throughout Southeast Texas had the opportunity to get checked by medical professionals, get free screenings and receive a tasty lunch — all free of charge.

Julie Rogers Gift of Life and Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas hosted their 2018 Free Men’s Healthcare Screening Saturday at the Carl Parker Center on Lamar State College Port Arthur campus. The event helped men get screened for things like prostate cancer, blood pressure and blood sugar with on-site physician consultations.


Getting checked

Holli Peterson, public affairs with Julie Rogers Gift of Life, explained a little bit about the program and the overall scope of the initiative.

“June is Men’s Health month, and since 2000, Gift of Life has gone to Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange to give free health screenings to residents of the seven counties of Southeast Texas,” she said.

Staff present would check for health concerns like prostate cancer and, if something was found, they would prescribe follow-ups through the appropriate channels.

“If you’re diagnosed with something through us, then we pay for the entirety of your diagnostics, screenings and support group,” Peterson said.

She stressed the importance of regular health screenings for the men present at the event. She pointed out that this was the only time many of them even had the chance to see a doctor.

“This is a one-stop shop where you can get the entirety of care,” Peterson said. “You can get things like your blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol checked with a doctor in addition to getting HIV and Hepatitis C screenings.

“We want the men in our community to be healthy and to live a long life.”

The health event was especially targeted toward lower-income individuals, both those who didn’t have insurance and those who have insurance but with a high deductible.

In the spirit of reaching out to those with less, the program partnered with the Southeast Texas Food Bank to give a box of food and a bag of produce in addition to the free screenings for men.

“This is a really important time to find out what men’s needs are,” Peterson said.

In order to register and benefit from the program, men went through an eligibility process that checked factors like their place of residence and their financial status.

Men must have been at least 45 years of age and had not been previously diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Peterson said the process was very attainable to get through because they wanted to help out as many men as they could.


Getting them there

Denise Boutte is a volunteer and nurse with the Southeast Texas Black Nurses Association. She is also a board member for Gift of Life and has been volunteering at the Men’s Healthcare Screening for 18 years.

“Each year has been overwhelming,” she said. “Port Arthur has always had a good turnout.”

Boutte, like many health professionals, emphasized the importance of getting checked regularly.

“The biggest obstacle is getting them here,” Boutte said. “Men don’t usually take care of themselves as well as women.”

“Once they’re here and they get checked, the men have this sense of relief that I’m glad I came,” Dianne Marx, fellow nurse and volunteer, said.

Both Boutte and Marx cited obesity as the biggest health concern men face in Southeast Texas, along with other issues that stem from it: High blood pressure, hypertension and heart disease.


Celebrity care

Former NFL player Joe Washington Jr. was present and served as the event’s special celebrity guest.

“Being a kid who played here in the community and who was supported by that community… I just wanted to support them in return,” Washington said.

“It’s something my family believes in doing. Anything I can do to help support the community, the kids, the grandparents, parents and others, I’ll do it.”

In other places, Ron Hollier of Nederland sat and waited in line for his free health screening.

“My mom told me to come to the screening,” he said.

Hollier has not had insurance for a year. He mentioned the difficulty of seeing a doctor or getting any kind of medical exam due to price.

A little further down the aisle, Mohammed Zare of Silsbee was one of the men who had insurance, but met eligibility requirements.

“The (program) called me to come here. They had my information,” Zare said. “I have health insurance but a high deductible.”

The event started in the morning and went through the afternoon. Prior registration was encouraged.