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Community works on its health

Fair aims at people's lifestyles

POSTED: February 1, 2010 11:52 a.m.
Photo by Jen Alexander McCall/

Employees at Farmer's Natural Foods shared healthy samples during the Family Health Fair Saturday.

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Despite the steady rain, a modest crowd turned up at at the family health fair at the YMCA Saturday. Sponsored by the Wal-Mart Vision Center, the Hinesville Neighborhood Crime Watch and Hinesville Lion’s Club, the health fair featured at least a dozen community groups offering free health resources to visitors.
Among the featured groups were the Department of Health and Family Services, Mary Kay, Survivor Outreach Services and Savannah Tech nursing student volunteers. Evelyn Timmons was on-site as a representative of the Coastal Health District, offering free HIV testing and counseling to participants.
“This is a 20-minute test, it’s non-invasive and the advantage is speed,” Timmons said. Results for traditional tests can take up to 72 hours, which can sometimes be a determining factor in whether people decide to be tested, she said.
Pre-counseling for the testing involves asking a series of questions about a patient’s personal history including relationships, safe-sex practices and possible drug use. If any answers reveal high-risk behavior, counseling includes discussing ways to reduce the risk of contracting HIV or other STDs.
Timmons said she tries to make herself available to hold discussions with small groups such as churches, fairs and “hen parties,” potluck-style women’s gatherings. She also offers her cell phone number to teens who may be putting themselves more at risk for HIV and other STDs.
“When I find young people involved in high-risk behavior, I’ll give them my cell number. I have kids and grandkids, and you knoww you’d do what you have to do to keep safe.”
Another group that makes its services available to people in a health-risk category is the Lion’s Club. Local President Cindy Waldrop and other members offered eye screenings to visitors. She said typical candidates for screening include people older than 40 who have hypertension, diabetes or high cholesterol, conditions that can lead to eye diseases such as glaucoma, as well as blindness.
“If they fail the screening, we log their name and send it to the state Georgia Lions Lighthouse to set up a more comprehensive eye exam,” Waldrop said. Through the state group candidates may also be eligible for assistance with eyeglasses and cataract surgery.
A relatively new organization based out of Fort Stewart was on-site at the health fair. Survivor Outreach Services, a liaison group for survivors of military casualties, was offering information and support for military spouses and their families.
Support coordinator Safiyyah Hines said the group was just launched last year. Her office is responsible for addressing needs in a large region. SOS locally covers Southeast Georgia, the two southernmost counties of South Carolina and all of Florida except for the Panhandle, Hines said.
She said the group helps for the time after the initial grieving process, when families begin to sort through the next set of responsibilities. “By the time you’re ready to figure out how to take care of your business, you may have forgotten all those people you met,” she said. “We can be a liaison between the survivor and the Army.”
 

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