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Wellness day aims at disease prevention

By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services

Sara Hedgepeth-Scott, right, talks with ECU medical student Stephanie MacPherson during the wellness day Feb. 21 in Rocky Mount. Photos by Doug Boyd
ROCKY MOUNT, N.C.   (Feb. 26, 2014)   —   At last week's "wellness day" in Rocky Mount, Willie Green compared preventive health care to looking after his car.

"You got to keep everything checked up," he said. "It's like checking the air in your tires."

Green was one of more than 20 men and women from Rocky Mount and surrounding towns that attended a health assessment Friday at the Edgecombe County Health Department building. The third-annual event was led by students from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, specifically the school's Brody Scholars.

The four-hour event included a free stroke-risk screening, blood pressure measurement, cholesterol assessment, blood glucose screening, a cardiovascular screening, dental screening and a review of risk factors. Local health center representatives were available to follow up with participants determined to be at high risk for stroke or other diseases.

"We're trying to make it a bigger type of screening event," said Stephanie MacPherson, a Brody Scholar and fourth-year medical student. "Not just for stroke but to bring more resources for them to utilize."

In Edgecombe County, the age-adjusted death rate from cerebrovascular disease from 2007 to 2011 was 95.2 deaths per 100,000 people, more than twice the rate for the state as a whole and the highest in the state, according to the N.C. State Center for Health Statistics.

In Nash County, the figure was 48.4 deaths per 100,000 residents. Rocky Mount straddles both counties.

Green, 79, said hypertension was one of the conditions he wanted to check on.

"Blood pressure has been up and down like a roller-coaster," said the Rocky Mount resident. "I'm on about three different medicines for it."

Nikki Wooten, chronic disease self-management program assistant with Edgecombe County Human Services, worked with the Brody Scholars to organize and carry out the event. She was pleased with the turnout considering the rainy weather and said providing dental attention was important.

"Most people don't have dental insurance, and dental care for the un- and underinsured is hard to find," she said. "I wish we could have done more than a screening."

Dr. Michael Scholtz, assistant dean of the ECU School of Dental Medicine, performed the dental screenings.

In addition to being valuable for the public, the event was also valuable for the students.

"It's very important for us to meet the public we're going to be serving," said MacPherson. "We have a mission to help eastern North Carolina, so I think it furthers the mission of our school to come out and do this and make a positive impact.

Darci Hinnant, 33, of Rocky Mount, said insurance changes have made some services too expensive for her.

"I trust the quality of the care I'm getting from the students, and I would like to learn more about how to keep myself healthy," she said.

Presenters and sponsors of the stroke screening event were Vidant Edgecombe Hospital, the Brody School of Medicine, the Brody Foundation and the ECU School of Dental Medicine.

The Brody Medical Scholarship was established in 1983 by the family of J.S "Sammy" Brody. It is administered by the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation. The Brody Medical Scholarship provides full tuition and fees to incoming medical students who show high scholarship ability, leadership, a desire for service, moral character and a promise of distinction in medicine. The program shares the goals of the medical school to improve the health and quality of life for people in eastern North Carolina.

Dr. Michael Scholtz of the ECU School of Dental Medicine checks Willie Green of Rocky Mount during a dental screening at the Feb. 21 wellness day in Rocky Mount.
Dr. Michael Scholtz of the ECU School of Dental Medicine checks Willie Green of Rocky Mount during a dental screening at the Feb. 21 wellness day in Rocky Mount.


Contact: Doug Boyd | 252-744-2482