Free health care screenings come to Waterbury

Health

The Cigna Mobile Health Improvement Tour travels the country looking to help people get improved access to health care. How do they pick the places where they stop? I’ll let their spokesman fill you in:

“We look for communities where we think there are a large number of people not connected to health care services,” said Mark Slitt. “They may not have a regular relationship with a doctor. They may not be getting these screenings on a regular basis.”

Health officials say that defines Waterbury. They say many residents live in neighborhoods that don’t have easy access to major grocery store chains that sell healthy food options like fruits and vegetables. They chalk that up to factors like lack of transportation and cost. And that is contributing to some serious health issues in The Brass City.

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“The diabetes rate, specifically among black and Hispanic populations in Waterbury is above 20 percent and that’s highly concerning,” said Angie Matthis, Executive Director of the Greater Waterbury Health Partnership.  “A diabetes rate over 20 percent in any community is a huge red flag. What can we do to prevent that number from being so high?”

One thing the city health department did was call in The Cigna Foundation’s Mobile Health Improvement Tour. That’s a mobile health unit traveling the country to go directly into communities to conduct free “core four” health screenings. The “Core Four” consists of high blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and body mass index.

The free screenings on Thursday attracted Pamela Studley.

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“I like to keep up with the numbers because cholesterol runs in my family,” Pamela said. “It runs through my father’s side. He had like heart attacks and strokes.”

She feels the presence of the mobile unit attracted attention in the neighborhood around Division Street. She also hopes it would cause more people to wonder about their own health situations.

“There are so many people who are living out here who have high cholesterol, diabetes, suffer from strokes, heart attacks, HIV/AIDS, and they don’t know that they’re walking around like that,” she said.

The Cigna Mobile Health Improvement Tour has also been in other Connecticut cities like Hartford and New Haven. There are tentative plans to return to Waterbury in the fall. This is the second year in a row that the unit has stopped in Waterbury. 

For more information, contact the Waterbury Department of Health.

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