By Neil Richards
On April 5, the Belgrade UMC, in conjunction with the Missouri Baptist Breast Health Care Center Mammogram Van practiced mission outreach as they offered free mammogram screenings to women without insurance or whose insurance deductibles are prohibitive. The relatively isolated rural area of Washington County where Belgrade is located, presents difficulty for many women to travel to medical services.
This health fair springs from the personal faith journey of a dedicated Christian. Early this year, Gail Dennis, a BUMC church member, learned she had breast cancer. Thankfully, early detection and its resulting treatment resulted in a "cancer- free" diagnosis for Gail, but her experience made her wonder how many other area women might be in need of screening. Gail contacted Missouri Baptist Breast Care Center of St. Louis, and asked about the possibility of their Mobile Van Breast Exam Unit coming to Belgrade, and the rest of the health fair story unfolded!
In addition to the Breast Care exams, the Washington County Health Department provided free cholesterol and diabetic screenings; hearing professionals free hearing exams; and multiple community civic organizations child finger printing ID, disaster preparedness information, breastfeeding information; and information about healthy foods. A local drug company and law enforcement agency provided a "Drug Take Back Program".
A nurse practitioner answered questions in the Show Me Healthy Women program concerning different types of cancer screening for women and free heart-health risk screenings and the Pregnancy Resource Center provided information to the public about resources for dealing with teen pregnancies and parenting skills.
The Belgrade Fire Department provided free smoke detectors, and a tour of their fire truck. The Washington County Ambulance was available for touring.
Many of the events were specifically designed for children. At the Imagine No Malaria display- after learning about the Imagine No Malaria program and its goals, children came to a table layered with bags of change, covered with shaving cream. Each kid took a turn at "swatting the mosquito"; each bag of change found signaled a matching donation to the Imagine No Malaria Campaign.
An Emergency Planning display showed children and adults what items are needed for an emergency kit. The Belgrade State Bank took pictures of the children standing next to their beautiful Clydesdale parade horses.
Belgrade UMC has found a new mission outreach. The BUMC Health Fair is on the calendar for the next five years. Rev. Jan Dillard said she has heard reports of the health fair making a real difference in lives already.
“We got a call from one of the women who had the breast screening telling us that they had identified a difficulty, and due to early detection, she is now receiving treatment and they believe her prognosis is good,” Dillard said. “That’s a “Praise God!”