MADISON — A recent community study showed that people who live in counties where lots of coal is mined are much more likely to suffer from an array of chronic, life-threatening health problems.
The new study was published in April’s American Journal of Public Health.
The study, “Relations between Health Indicators and Residential Proximity to Coal Mining in West Virginia,” found that in the 14 counties where the biggest coal mining operations are located residents reported higher rates of cardiopulmonary disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, diabetes, and lung and kidney disease. In each of those counties, mining topped 4 million tons of coal a year.
“Residents of coal mining communities have long complained of impaired health. This study substantiates their claims. Those residents are at an increased risk of developing chronic heart, lung and kidney diseases,” said Dr. Michael Hendryx, associate director of the Institute for Health Policy Research in West Virginia University’s Department of Community Medicine and lead author of the study.
The annual Boone Memorial Hospital Health Fair that was at the Madison Civic Center last week on Oct. 4th is part of the hospital’s ongoing efforts to improve health in the community.
Many local physicians, hospital and other medical services providers participated in the health fair, which offered a variety of free and small fee health screenings. Screenings included discounted blood work, vitamin D testing, flu shots, cancer prevention education, medication reviews and much more.
This year’s theme was “Travel the Road to Better Health.” Volunteers, guests and vendors all dressed-up in attire to coincide with the theme. Awards were given for best costume.
“Our goal is to improve health in the communities we serve,” said Karlie Belle Price, Event Coordinator/Marketing Director. “This health fair accomplishes that by providing free and low cost screenings and services, informs the public of what services are available and assists those without health care insurance coverage.”
Over 50 vendors, including local healthcare organizations and community groups, were on-hand to take blood pressures, provide diabetic and tobacco cessation information, offer breast cancer education including how to receive free and/or half price mammograms at BMH using its new digital mammography equipment, Price said.
Hundreds of people attended the 5-hour event.
“This is the most people attending the health fair that I can remember in a long time,” Price said. “There has been a steady stream of people all day.”
Prizes were awarded every 15-30 minutes and free food was served by the BMH Dietary Director, Richard Holliday and his staff throughout the day.
“The public learned simple steps to make healthier foods enjoy mouth-watering food,” Price said.
“Guests also brought in non-perishable food items to receive extra door prize tickets,” Price added. “All the food will be donated to the local Madison Baptist Church food pantry.”
BMH also had a 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place prize for the best decorated booth/display. Entertainment including country line dancing, singing and karate demonstrations as well.
Angela Perry of Van said this was her second year attending the health fair.
“I love this event,” she said. “I don’t have health insurance and this gives me a chance to get some check-ups and screenings for free or at a very low cost. I also get to see what services are available for me. It’s a very important event for me to attend.”