Houston/ Health & Lifestyle
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Published on March 01, 2024
UTHealth Houston to Host Free Health Screenings and Women's Health Initiative in Eastex/JensenSource: Google Street View

Houstonians living in the predominantly Latino Eastex/Jensen neighborhood are in for an opportunity to receive free health screenings, thanks to an event organized by UTHealth Houston. Scheduled for March 9, the community health fair hosted by the student-led organization, UTHealth Cares, is poised to offer an array of vital services from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the UT Physicians Multispecialty - Jensen clinic. Houston Chronicle reports that the event will include dental and vision screenings, blood glucose tests, and health education sessions — along with a teddy bear clinic especially for kids.

Anh Nguyen, a first-year McGovern Medical School student deeply involved in the organization of the fair, expressed her connection to the initiative, saying, "One of my goals going into medical school was to be able to serve and empower underserved communities like we’re doing with this." In a neighborhood where Latinos comprise 76% of the population, the need for such a service is underscored by a recent UTHealth study that pegs the area as "medically underserved." Barriers such as lack of insurance and high costs, keep many from seeking medical care, despite nearly 5 million Texans going without insurance. The event is designed not just to provide immediate assistance but to educate residents on maintaining their health, according to statements obtained by the Houston Chronicle.

Simultaneously, UTHealth Houston is shining a spotlight on women's health with the Houston PAP Project, a no-cost cervical cancer screening program tailored for the Hispanic population. Project coordinator and cancer survivor, Juana Espino, works to spread word and reassure women about the importance of screening. "I never used to know my purpose in life, then I went through everything, and I feel like it was for something," Espino told UTHealth Houston News. Her role in the project is integral, leading efforts to help women overcome the fear involved with cancer screenings and the subsequent procedures.

The clinics offer a vital range of services including colposcopies and excisional procedures, apart from the Pap tests themselves. With a nearly 100% follow-up rate, the project has treated women with high-grade precancer and navigated them towards treatment, if cervical cancer is diagnosed, according to Abigail Zamorano, MD, assistant professor at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston — who helps to spearhead the initiative. In 2023, 250 women received screenings through this project, with 10 treated for high-grade precancer, a significant move towards preventing cancer progression.