Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

January 16, 2013

HEALTH: Area Catholic churches launch health initiative

Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Cherokee County's four Catholic churches will launch a health care initiative this March that focuses on giving residents “a better understanding of living a healthy lifestyle,” said Father Mark Kusmirek.

The priest, who is pastor of Jacksonville's Our Lady of Sorrows Church, said the Parish Nurse Program will include monitoring of blood pressure and blood sugar, as well as address weight issues and “help people better understand the medications they may be on.”

The initiative “works in collaboration with other health services, including the Public Health Depart here in Cherokee County,” he explained. “We hope to provide information and referral resources – this is not a clinic, it's not there for emergency services but to help people get a better understanding of living a healthy lifestyle.”

No medical advice will be given, just clarification of information doctors have given patients and helping them understand how and when to take dispensed medications.

“We're there for the spiritual wellness of individuals – not to proselytize, but to hear their needs and learn what's going on people's lives,” the priest said. “So many people have no one to talk to, and we want to listen to others with love.”

While the local Catholic church – as well as the ones in Rusk, Alto and New Summerfield – will be offering the program, it is open to the community at large. “Health (concerns) go across cultural and language boundaries,” Father Mark said.

There is no cost involved, and at this time, organizers are planning to operate the Parish Nurse Program one day a month at each of the churches, but will meet at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at Our Lady of Sorrows to set dates and times, as well as see what supplies are needed.

Volunteers are welcome, and a training class is in the works so “they'll know what they can and cannot do under the guidelines of the program,” he said.

For more information, contact the Jacksonville Catholic church office at 903-586-4538.

Elsewhere in the county, health services being offered include:

• Rusk – Jordan Health Service offers free health screenings on the third Thursday of the month, beginning at 11 a.m. at the Ross Activity Center, 555 Euclid St. Services include getting blood sugars and blood pressure checked.

• Jacksonville – Cherokee County Public Health will offer a low-cost flu vaccine clinic Jan. 24 at its 520 E. Commerce offices in Jacksonville; vaccines will be available from 7 a.m.-6 p.m., with a one-hour noon lunch break.

The cost for children with private insurance and for adults is $9 and a canned good, while children who qualify for the Texas Vaccines for Children program pay only $7.

There is no charge for children with CHIPS or Medicaid, nor for adults with Medicare Part B. However, both children and adults must bring program cards, and adults also must provide photo ID and supplemental insurance.

Public Health also offers low- to no-cost STD testing appointments to eligible clients.

The clinic is open from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday. Or call 903-586-6191 for more information.