Archive for Thursday, December 21, 2006

Health screenings encourage senior wellness

December 21, 2006

As the blood pressure machine finished its test, Shirley Grubbs looked over to her patient, Bud James.

"You're just as steady as she goes today," Grubbs said to him. "Really good."

The exact form of the tests Grubbs performs each month at the Pinecrest II Apartments varies.

One month she might take a patient's blood pressure or blood sugar, as she did Tuesday with James, the next she might make a weight check.

One thing never wavers for Grubbs ---- she's always a health advocate for her patients.

"We will call physicians for them if they request, but we're here to help them manage their health," Grubbs said. "The longer they stay healthy, the longer they can stay in their own homes."

The longer patients stay in their own homes, the longer they maintain independence, she said.

"That's critical for adults over 60," Grubbs said.

She has been performing the monthly health screenings on the third Tuesday of every month at Pinecrest, "for a long, long time," she said.

The program ---- run by the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department ---- originally started at Eudora Nursing Center. It moved to Pinecrest because the county saw a greater local need there, Grubbs said.

In recent months, Grubbs has noticed a decline in attendance, and she's looking to spread the word about the program, she said

The program serves citizens 60 years old and older and their spouses.

"That means if the patient is 60 and their wife is 58, we can treat them too," Grubbs said.

The county charges patients $1 for most of the tests, which include nutrition counseling, check for anemia and urine tests.

The county also offers vaccines for the flu, tetanus and pneumonia for a higher fee. Although the county charges for the tests, no one would be turned away because of the inability to pay.

"Generally speaking, we do a lot of blood pressure and blood sugar checks," Grubbs said. "That's the bulk of what we do."

At the Babcock Place in Lawrence, the department offers hearing tests.

"We just don't have quiet enough of a place here," Grubbs said.

The health screens offer an opportunity for patients to find problems before they worsen, Grubbs said. She remembered past patients who have tested with abnormally high blood pressures or sugars.

When such results occur, she sends the patients straight to their physician.

Often they come back the next month, and their levels have evened out, she said.

The screenings are especially valuable to older diabetics, who use the screenings to control the disease, she said.

Heather Anderson worked with Grubbs at Tuesday's session. She said an additional benefit of the program is the close ties with the patients.

Anderson said the patients say the nurse at the sessions becomes a friendly face.

For James, the program offers an opportunity to keep his health on track.

"She keeps good check on everything," James said. "She kind of keeps a rein on everything."

The next health screening for people over 60 will take place from 9 to 10 a.m. Jan. 23 at Pinecrest II Apartments, 924 Walnut St., Eudora.

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