Sai volunteers find fulfillment helping ETHAN with med camp

ETHAN will follow up with ‘guests’ who went thru Med Camp
By SHARON KERR Staff Writer

Medical Camp at the Community Church in Jasper spilled all over the sanctuary, the offices and classrooms, and out into the parking lot on South Wheeler this past Saturday.

ETHAN (East Texas Health Access Network) was still compiling numbers, but several hundred residents took advantage of free health screening open to all.

Medical professionals from the Sathya Sai organization assisted doctors, nurses, technicians, pharmacists and volunteers from many organizations in East Texas in performing a number of screening tests and procedures.

Carlene Womack, founder of ETHAN, said the medical camps help detect problems- often before symptoms appear- and can save both lives and thousands of dollars by preventing chronic conditions from escalating.

“We call the people going through the camps our guests, not patients, because we recognize that they are not sick. They are doing something to be more healthy,” said Sai Ganesamoorthi, one of the volunteers from Dallas.

The first checkpoint for guests was height, weight and blood pressure, and a finger prick to check blood sugar, cholesterol and sodium levels. Advanced screening was available for cholesterol problems.

All guests were treated nutrition counseling specific to their blood test. Nursing students from Stephen F. Austin State University demonstrated food portions. People with too much sodium, for example, were shown what to look for on product labels, and how to make wiser choices for meals and snacks.

Each guest also had a foot exam that checked for sensitivity with a needle prick.

“Diabetes and obesity are such problems now,” Ganesamoorthi said, “and foot problems go along with those conditions.”

A portable bone density scanner checked for osteoporosis. The dental exam included a fluoride treatment if cavities were detected, and the opportunity to set a follow-up appointment with ETHAN’s mobile dental van.

Volunteers from the local Lion’s club assisted with an eye exam. Lion Claude Durham, past district governor from Livingston, explained that the Lions were also collecting used eyeglasses which are cleaned and refurbished in Midland before being sent all over the world to assist the needy.

For women, the medical camp offered free breast exams.

Lillie Robinson of the Jasper Newton County Health Clinic was pushing free flu shots and offering information on immunizations for children and adults. She said shots at the clinic are just $5, with or without insurance.

After all the screening, each guest consulted with a doctor or pediatrician to be sure they understood the results of the tests and to answer any questions.

Anyone regularly taking prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs had the opportunity to go over their medications with a pharmacy specialist.

The camp also offered benefits counseling for those who needed financial assistance or transportation to medical facilities for follow ups.

Shyam Kanagala, one of the leaders of the Sai organization, says their group believes in putting into practice what they learn in Sunday school, “Love all, serve all, help all and hurt never. We are like one cell in the body, each individual, but we serve the whole.”

Manny Mistry, another Sai member, said this is the fourth medical camp they have conducted this year, but that Jasper is like coming home.

“We came here after the hurricane and kind of adopted this area. We love working with these folks,” Mistry said.

The Sathya Sai organization says they do their work “not on behalf of any exclusive religion… not on a mission of publicity for a sect or creed or cause,” but as a duty and obligation of love.

“Without love, nobody would want to do anything. This medical camp is merely an excuse for sharing of love,” Kanagatha said.


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