LUCOM prepares to bring needed medical services to Martinsville
With an unemployment rate hovering around 10 percent, the Martinsville region tops the list of the most economically disadvantaged areas in Virginia. Tied to the high unemployment rate is a lack of access to preventative and primary medical care for many of the residents of the city and region.
Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) is committed to reaching out to underserved regions and becoming a partner with existing agencies and individuals for the improvement of the health and lives of those citizens. A prime example of this goal and mission is the Medical Outreach event on October 24 in Martinsville, planned by the administration of LUCOM.
“The area in Martinsville is wonderful, and the people are genuinely gracious. However, due to the economic status of the region, they must deal with the consequences of a very high unemployment rate and the significant health risks that a lack of access to health care brings in such situations,” said James Cook, LUCOM Director of Medical Outreach and International Medicine. “The jobless, homeless, and the large Hispanic population are at most risk. We wish to address the needs in this demographic.”
Student-doctors, supported and supervised by faculty from LUCOM and community volunteers, will provide health screenings, as well as primary and preventative health care. They will be cooperating with local agencies including the Community Health Center, PATHS, and Memorial Hospital of Martinsville.
“Students will gain a perspective that as physicians, it is really important to give back and help others in need. Too many times, physicians forget over the years that they went into medicine to help others. This will be one of many experiences here at LUCOM to help student-doctors realize the importance of giving to others and to not lose sight of the vision they started with,” said Carl Hoegerl, D.O., LUCOM Chair and Assistant Professor of Neurology.
Student-doctors and physicians will provide general health screenings for medical issues including obesity and diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, smoking cessation and lung diseases such as asthma and COPD, G.I. disturbances from ulcer disease and the evaluation and treatment of musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction, including the application of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine. The hospital is supporting limited laboratory screening services as well as the diagnostic evaluations that will result from the women’s clinic. Women’s health services will include pregnancy tests, screening for STD’s and well-women health care screenings including breast, pap and pelvic examinations. Cooperating local agencies will provide follow-up care for those who need it.
The goal is to develop this initial event in Martinsville/Henry County into an annual outreach effort and expand the services offered to include dental, psychology, and ophthalmology. In the years to come, the LUCOM administration also wants to increase the number of days the event is held and expand the number of patients that it can serve.