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Health Expo In St. Francois County Brings Free Preventive Care to Missourians

This Saturday, St. Francois County Community Partnership is holding its annual Health Expo, called "Taking Back Your Health," after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Health professionals will be there giving screenings at no cost, for blood pressure, glucose levels, and even breast cancer.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused disruptions to many patients' health care routines.

William Bunch, executive director of the St. Francois County Community Partnership (SFCCP), said it could be an opportunity to get back into it. He explained depending on the results, vendors will make referrals to follow up.

"People can come in the morning to our event, and take advantage of these free health screenings, worth thousands of dollars," Bunch pointed out. "It's not an income-based thing. Anybody that walks in can take advantage of these."

Bunch noted there will also be games and activities for kids, snacks and drinks, demonstrations, and emergency vehicle tours. SFCCP is one of the Missouri Family and Community Trust's 20 Community Partnerships across the state. Folks can go to mofact.org to find out if their local partnership offers similar resources.

Bunch added many Missourians often forget about preventive health care, and respond to symptoms or conditions as they worsen rather than catching them early. He noted Missouri Baptist Hospital sends a mammogram van for uninsured or underinsured women aged 40 to 64, which in the past has been able to catch instances of breast cancer at early stages.

"It's best to get an annual checkup and catch these things ahead of time," Bunch urged. "It's much more cost-effective to do it that way instead of going to the emergency room, which is extremely expensive. And a lot of insurances carry a high deductible on that."

Data from Epic Research shows cancer screenings nationwide have not returned to pre-pandemic levels. Breast and colon cancer screenings remain at two to four points below baseline, and cervical cancer screenings are 10% below baseline, with an estimated 68,000 missed breast cancer exams and 27,000 missed screenings for colon cancer.

Missouri News Service is a partner with KRCU Public Radio.