Free screenings, education help East Texas save on health care costs

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Free blood pressure screenings, advice on how to take care of your health, and informational brochures were up for grabs at Tuesday's fourth annual community health fair. For Tonie Smallwood, health is not something to take for granted.

"I came to learn some information so the people that didn't come today, maybe I could give them a word of encouragement," said Lufkin resident Tonie Smallwood.

Smallwood comes from a long line of family members with costly diseases.

"I have diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer has taken a couple of my family members, so this is very important to me," said Smallwood.

Event coordinator, Steve Spivey, says these free screenings are important, especially during ongoing debates over national health care reform. Lawmakers are sparring over what the government will pay versus a patient's portion.

"Healthcare reform, it's a very uncertain time right now. And, I don't think anybody really knows exactly how it's going to affect us yet," said Steve Spivey, Physician Relations and Recruitment for Memorial Hospital.

So, to save East Texans money, Spivey says it's best to work on prevention methods.

"With all the changes that's going on in healthcare, right now, one of those key things that we have to get out to the public at large is education," said Spivey.

Spivey says education is the best prevention measure, which could in turn save East Texans millions of dollars in healthcare costs.

"If people are educated, if they maintain or work toward some kind of wellness program, conceivably it's millions and millions of dollars saved in our healthcare system," said Spivey.

As for Smallwood, Tuesday's screenings bring relief, knowing she and family are in good health.

Doctors say the easiest ways to stay healthy include a proper diet, plenty of exercise, and annual check-ups.

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