Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

January 22, 2014

Health fair gives county hope for clinic

Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress

ALTO — As the city's monthly health fair grows more popular in both attendance and among vendors, its very presence reveals a growing need for more permanent services in small towns such as these.

“This could be monumental for Cherokee County, especially the southern portion of the county,” said county public health director Chris Taylor, who cited a “great need for women's health and family planning services” in the central to southern region of the county.

Such clinics “will help keep many patients out of the emergency room and under the care of a medical (provider),” he said.

Setting up at various events in the county, like Alto Health For All, public health officials can raise public awareness of services offered while offering screenings or other information for free or little cost, Taylor said.

While most Texans have some kind of health insurance coverage, 26 percent do not, according to countyhealthrankings.org.

In Cherokee County, that number is slightly higher, at 31 percent, according to those rankings.

Low-income clinics – like the one which Kathi Davis, administrative assistant for the Alto EDC, hopes arises from the monthly health fairs – will benefit those without insurance and who meet income and residence requirements.

“I think it's really gonna be critical now with the state that our healthcare is in. It'll be harder and harder, probably, to get in to see a doctor to have the simple things checked,” he said.

“For so many people, transportation and things like that are a problem, but if they can just come to town, it's not that hard a process to have your BP or blood sugar checked,” said County Judge Chris Davis, pointing out that various entities provides such services.

“And like a lot of things, those (services) are critical (because) people can see if they need to watch blood sugars and their blood pressure. And then they'll maybe make that much needed appointment and go see a doctor,”

Davis said.