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Promoting accessibility to health care

Riverdale Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon (left) attempts to get by participant Benita Sanders during the “Tom Joyner’s 10th Anniversary Take a Loved One To The Doctor Season” event at the Riverdale Centre. 

Riverdale Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon (left) attempts to get by participant Benita Sanders during the “Tom Joyner’s 10th Anniversary Take a Loved One To The Doctor Season” event at the Riverdale Centre. 

There were hardly any parking spaces left, on Friday, at the Riverdale Centre for the Arts, Business and Leisure Services.

People from all over Clayton County, and the metro area, flocked to the multi-purpose civic facility, at 7200 Church Street, in Riverdale, for free health education and screenings.

The goings-on were part of a “Tom Joyner’s 10th Anniversary Take a Loved One To The Doctor Season” event, said Eugene Brooks, a spokesman for Atlanta’s KISS 104.1 FM. He explained that Tom Joyner is the host of the nationally syndicated “Tom Joyner Morning Show,” which airs on the radio station.

Brooks said the event also was being conducted in other areas around the country, such as New York City and the District of Columbia.

“The overall message is to take a loved one to the doctor ... sometimes people don’t want to go to the doctor,” he said. “You need to find out what those things are to get treated.”

Tommie Coppins, of Jonesboro, was waiting in a long line to get cholesterol and glucose screenings from Southern Regional Medical Center staffers.

He said he lost his job last year, and had depended on it for health insurance. Events like this, he said, are important, because they provide people with information about their well-being and health care. “This helps me kind of know where I stand,” he said.

According to Riverdale officials, the city provided the Riverdale Centre to the hosts and sponsors of the event free of charge.

Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon said the event is valuable because there are so many people without health insurance, and in need of treatment. People, who may not have access to health insurance, because they are laid off or homeless, she said, often depend on visiting the emergency room at hospitals to get treated.

She said there are many resources, and low-cost health-care providers people can use and avoid the emergency room visits all together. If fewer people visit emergency rooms, it may help lower health-care costs, she said.

“Events like this allow people to educate themselves about local resources,” she added.

Event Spokesman Brooks said about 35 vendors provided educational materials and health-care services to the public. The vendors included Southern Regional Medical Center; the Lupus Foundation America Georgia Chapter Inc., in Smyrna; and D’Lifeful Drinks & Smoothies in Douglasville.

Justin Cooper, a spokesman for Southern Regional, said the hospital participated to support the community event and to provide free health screenings for the public. He added that a local Everest Institute assisted the hospital with the screenings.

“From my perspective, it is important to have a presence to show who we are, and to give back to the community,” he said.

Deron Owens, co-owner of D’Lifeful Drinks & Smoothies, said he decided to showcase his products to educate people about the benefits of consuming fruits. For example, he said, fruits, such as pineapples, are loaded with vitamins and strengthen bones. “It’s about how diversity makes you healthy,” said Owens, about food choices. “Fruits are important to your body.”

Jasmine Cotson, an intern with the Lupus Foundation of America, said the Georgia Chapter was present to teach the public about the disease, and to answer any questions or concerns. “Over 55,000 Georgians, and 1.5 million Americans, suffer from lupus,” she said.