(COLLEGE STATION, TX) – In partnership with several organizations, the Texas A&M Health Science Center Coastal Bend Health Education Center recently provided a health fair to colonia residents in South Texas.

The Feb. 18 health fair in the Tierra Grande colonia was developed by the Diabetes Education Center of the HSC Coastal Bend Health Education Center under Juan F. Castro, M.D., Coastal Bend Center director. Assistance was provided by the Catholic Charities Housing Department of Corpus Christi, the South Texas Colonia Initiative, Inc., and Frontera de Salud.

Students also were heavily involved. Medical students from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, including their sponsor Dr. Abraham Verghese, M.D., were joined by nursing students from Del Mar College, who provided cholesterol and glucose screening. Other vendors like the Nueces County Health Department and Christus Spohn-Memorial Hospital set up booths with literature and offered health care information in English and Spanish.

Approximately 50 men, women and children came to La Nueva Jerusalem Church and received free medical exams for acute problems, bone density screening, breast examinations, and blood sugar and cholesterol testing. Blood pressure was measured, as was height, weight and body mass index (BMI). Medical students screened attendees and, depending on their health conditions, sent some individuals to physicians for further examination.

A dietician and dietician interns offered nutrition advice, and prescription assistance was available to those that qualified for the HSC Coastal Bend Health Education Center program.

“I’m really pleased that we were able to provide these services to the community, especially to an underserved area with a population of individuals with health care disparities,” said Juanita Garcia, R.N., HSC Coastal Bend Health Education Center health education coordinator.

Lionel Lopez, founder of the South Texas Colonia Initiative, Inc., was eager to see colonia residents participate. Carrying out his organization’s goal of improving quality of life and living conditions in colonias, he even went door-to-door encouraging families to attend.

“This program is extremely important for the people living in the colonias because it benefits people who do not have prescription drug coverage, and it provides for those in need to receive free or low-cost medications,” said Sandra Garcia, lead office assistant for the Prescription Assistance Program of the HSC Coastal Bend Health Education Center.

Center officials said the Saturday event was a learning experience not only for the medical and nursing students but also colonia residents. Staff and other event volunteers are eager to provide more of these health fairs in the future.

— Marketing & Communications