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UA health club offers free screening

By Rachael Myer
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 5, 1999
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A UA health club will hold a free screening tomorrow for Tucsonans whose illnesses may otherwise go unchecked.

"A lot of people do not have insurance or are unaware of the diseases they have," said Bruce Montoya, club member and community health senior.

About 30 residents of a community just south of A-Mountain, who are typically uninsured or are unable to afford medical services, asked the club to help screen members for signs of potential diseases, said Community Health Club President Omar Passons.

"It helps them to let them know there might be a problem," said first year public health graduate student Passons. "It is a red flag."

About six of the 25 Community Health Club members and several University of Arizona medical students will check the Tucsonans from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. tomorrow at A-Mountain Community House, 1814 W. San Juan Trail, Passons said. The medical students and club members who hold certifications will conduct the examinations, Passons said.

"The population we serve is very underserved. These people fall through the cracks," said club member and biochemistry junior Melissa Grover.

The team will offer services to anybody who lacks access to regular health care, and help as many people as possible tomorrow, he said.

"We will go anywhere and serve anyone that isn't having their health care needs met," Passons said, adding that the group would plan a return trip if more people needed health screening.

Patients will be tested for an unhealthy ratio of lean muscle mass to body fat, as well as high blood pressure and diabetes, Passons added. Being overweight or having a family history of heart disease or diabetes can point out tendencies toward the illnesses, he said.

Many people the club will help tomorrow are minorities, Passons said, and are sometimes at higher risk for diseases because of economics. Smaller problems can develop into serious illnesses without affordable health care, he said.

"These people wouldn't have a chance for a screening if we didn't provide that for them," said club member and biochemistry senior Danelle Paulick.

All of the club's equipment was donated by various agencies, Passons said. Pima County supplies a mobile health screening van for the club's use when they go into the community.

Many of the club members are undergraduate students studying anthropology, health education or are pre-medical students, Passons added. Some are Emergency Medical Technicians or nursing students. The preventative screening tomorrow will mark the fourth time since the club began in 1996 that the members have checked the public for illnesses, said Passons, who started the club with about five other UA students.

"I saw there was no meaningful way to meet the (medical) needs of the community and get training so I said I'd start one (a club)," he said.