CVS plans free health screenings for underserved areas

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WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark Corp. plans hundreds of free health screenings in communities nationwide this year through its A Su Salud (To Your Health) health fairs.

The company said Wednesday that the community wellness program offers free health-risk assessments and screenings to help people in underserved areas with early detection and disease prevention. More than 800 events are scheduled for 2010 in cities including Miami; Los Angeles; Dallas/Fort Worth; Houston; Corpus Christi, Texas; San Francisco; and Sacramento and Fresno, Calif.

CVS said the A Su Salud health fairs , a schedule for which is available at www.asusalud.com, provide diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol and osteoporosis screenings and examine patients for oral care, provide referrals for mammograms and pap smears, and offer consultations with doctors and pharmacists.

The pharmacy chain said that last year it provided free and low-cost medical screenings and services valued at $49 million to the community through the A Su Salud program and direct referrals from the events.

"This recession has made it more critical than ever for people to have access to adequate and affordable health care," Troy Brennan, chief medical officer for CVS Caremark, said in a statement. "Hispanics are disproportionately affected by chronic diseases like diabetes, and we are pleased to help make these health services more accessible to help aid in early detection and lower their risk levels for disease and complications."

In 2009, more than 195,000 people were screened during the A Su Salud events, CVS said. And of those screened, a number of health concerns were discovered, including 33% with high cholesterol, 36% with a high to moderate risk of developing osteoporosis, 28% with hypertension and 22% with diabetes (more than half of whom were diagnosed with diabetes for the first time).

CVS also noted that many of the health fairs included cancer screening for women, where over 16,000 women nationwide were referred to these free services. This year, CVS again is slated to partner with local and state agencies to host mobile units offering low-cost and no-cost cancer detection services for women, including mammograms and pap smears.

Once screened, patients are helped through on-site consultations with bilingual doctors, who analyze the results and refer patients to no-cost or low-cost medical facilities within that neighborhood or to their primary care physician, if additional followup is required, according to CVS.


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