Free screenings and family fun
By Jack Criss
The Bolivar Bullet
The Institute for the Advancement of Minority Health held a free “Meet and Greet” health event for the citizens of Shelby last Saturday, June 25, at 701 S. Lauderdale Avenue. Cordaro Mays, a Community Health Worker for the Institute, a Mound Bayou native who is currently residing in Shelby, said the event was for people in Bolivar and surrounding counties to come out, get free medical tests and screenings and enjoy themselves in the process.
“I cover four counties in the Delta for the Institute–including Bolivar, of course–and this event, like others we put on in the area, lets people know what we do and how we can help them take care of themselves and their families,” said Mays. “In Shelby, for instance, we gave out free food, had face painting for the kids, water balloons, slides, music, volleyball–a lot like a festival. But the true purpose of the ‘Meet and Greet’ was health awareness. We provided free, rapid HIV and Covid testing, blood pressing screenings, urine dipstick testing, blood pressure testing, diabetes and cholesterol prevention and control education–a number of issues that the community needs to know about while also enjoying themselves,” he said.
The event, which went from 1:00 p.m. until 4:30 p.m., had over 160 attendees, said Mays, whose background is in health care (as a paramedic and in ER and ICU units) and who just started his job with the Institute on June 1. For those individuals whose test results at the “Meet and Greet” came out positive, Mays said the Institute has a number of referral methods and networks in place to help that person seek the care they need. “We also have social workers on hand at all of our events like this to immediately talk to the individual and get them pointed in the right direction,” added Mays.
“We also have what we call a ‘safe place’ located in Shelby where people who are dealing with illness can come together as a group every month and support each other with the help of a social worker,” said Mays. “The Institute seeks to provide help, support and assistance after the initial diagnosis because there is so much more that can be done today–both medically and socially–to help patients, especially those who are HIV positive. In fact, we even held an event at the Cleveland Walgreen’s on Monday where we provided free HIV screening. People need to know their status, especially here in the Delta where HIV is, unfortunately, still a problem.”
The Institute For The Advancement of Minority Health, based in Flowood, MS, was established in 2019 to reduce health disparities among disadvantaged and underserved minority populations in the southern region through program development and implementation, training and technical assistance, organizational capacity building, grant writing and evaluation. The areas covered by the Institute include all 82 counties of Mississippi.
Stakeholders for the Institute include vulnerable and disadvantaged minority populations in Mississippi. Specifically, the Institute specializes in working with community-based organizations, local, state and national public health agencies, municipalities, academic institutions of higher learning, and other educational facilities to develop, implement and evaluate public health programs–all designed to improve the health of vulnerable, disadvantaged and underserved communities.