Island men invited for health care overhaul

Posted Jan. 18, 2011, at 9:37 p.m.

STONINGTON, Maine — Boat owners regularly survey the condition of their boats, and now Island Family Medicine hopes island men will pay the same attention to their own bodies.

Island Family Medicine, a family practice of Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, will offer a free “Men’s Health Overhaul” 6-9 a.m. Saturday at the Penobscot East Resource Center, formerly the Atlantic Hardware building.

The health screening clinic is presented as part of the Healthy Island Project “Winterfest” celebration, an annual island event that features music and a variety of activities.

With many of the men from Deer Isle and Stonington involved in fishing, the IFM used the boat overhaul model as a way to try to encourage men to attend the free screening.

“Our area fishermen appreciate the importance of taking care of their boats, which they view as the source of their livelihood,” said Brenda Merritt, the practice manager at IFM.

“We’re challenging them that it’s just as important to take care of their bodies. Chronic disease can devastate an individual and even and entire family if left untreated. We want to prevent that.”

Those attending the overhaul will follow a health care checklist similar to a checklist for assessing a boat’s condition. The checklist includes headings such as “Gross Tonnage” which checks weight, height and body mass index; “Oil Pressure,” for blood pressure checks;  “Antifreeze,” cholesterol; “Muffler,” hearing; “Compass,” vision; and others.

While the overhaul is an amusing way to approach health care, the message IFM hopes to send is a serious one.

“The overall goal is to let men know that their health is important,” Merritt said Tuesday. “We’re hoping by doing this that any undetected health risks will be brought to light and that they will see the importance of ongoing health care and dental care.”

Merritt stressed that the overhaul assessments will be done by volunteers from several island organizations, including the Island Medical Center board of directors; EMTs from Memorial Ambulance; Bruce van Emerick, the local dentist; and Dr. Charles Zelnick, the IFM physician.

This will be a “men for men” session, as all of those overseeing the health screening stations will be men, according to Merritt.

The idea for the overhaul came from Zelnick, who had done a similar health care initiative based on car terms while practicing in Australia. It is funded through a Health Resources and Services Administration grant which had helped IFM to convert the practice to an electronic medical records system, the first in the area to do so. According to Merritt, those grant funds also are being used to establish a Web portal that patients will be able to use to communicate online with the medical center.

The clinic will be a walk-in service with no preregistration required, but Merritt stressed that those who participate need to fast before coming in for the cholesterol and diabetes screenings. IFM also will provide a free, healthy breakfast at the overhaul site, which will include oatmeal, yogurt and fresh fruit, along with coffee, tea and cider.

For more information about the free screening clinic, contact Merritt at Island Family Medicine, 367-2311.

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