Free clinic brings health care to East Texas uninsured -, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Free clinic brings health care to East Texas uninsured

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The Texas Department of State Health Services is joining local partners to give free medical care to uninsured East Texans this week.

It's called the East Texas Medical Outreach and will include free physical exams, vision and hearing tests, mammograms and much more.

Doctors at the clinic say there's no hard number for how many uninsured people there are in East Texas, but their best guess is about 1 in 4 people in each county are uninsured. They say the goal of the program is to give people the knowledge they need about their own health.

People like Elizabeth Oliver of Ben Wheeler, who attended the first day of the clinic. Oliver is uninsured and says she hasn't been able to see a doctor in about four years.

"Considering I hadn't been to a doctor in awhile, I just thought it best, you know, if I came and got certain things checked out today," Oliver said.

People will be able to have tests for things like blood pressure and cholesterol and vision and hearing. There are doctors on hand to examine patients, and opportunities to receive mammograms, immunizations, pharmacy care, and health advice.

The Texas State Guard started the outreach program several years ago in the Rio Grande Valley, and State Representative Dan Flynn saw its potential.

"I said, you know what, we have more needs, or just as great of needs in East Texas as we have here in the Rio Grande Valley, and I would like to plan an opportunity for us to come up here and do it," he said.

Flynn says it took about a year and a half to bring the program to East Texas, but it's an opportunity doctors say people shouldn't let slip by.

"One main reason I think people should come in is preventive health care is so much more important than just getting health care after you're sick," said Dr. Paul McGaha, the Regional Director for the Texas Department of State Health Services in East Texas.

"If we can identify a high blood sugar early, if we can identify high blood pressure early, get started on medications, get started on the appropriate diet and exercise regimen, it can prevent years or decades of problems that can cause serious issues like heart attack or stroke," McGaha said.

And Oliver says she'd recommend the clinic to anyone.

"I know what I need to do to keep living," she said.

The outreach will run from Tuesday, June 11 through Thursday, June 13 at the Van Junior High School in Van.

Registration is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, with the clinic closing at 5 p.m.

Anyone who is uninsured in East Texas is invited to attend.

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