REFUGIO – While the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated healthcare discussion, there are other health concerns that continue to be important, and the Refugio County Memorial Hospital will have a community health fair to help keep local residents safe and healthy.

The event is scheduled from 7 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Oct. 20, from 2-6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21 and from 7 a.m. to noon Thursday, Oct. 22 at the Refugio County Community Center, 305 W. Swift St. It will also be offered from 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Oct. 21 at the Austwell-Tivoli Clinic, 106 W. Wilson in Tivoli.

“There are two primary reasons for the health fair,” said Refugio County Memorial Hospital CEO Hoss Whitt. “As the only primary health care provider in the county — we don’t have a local public health department — we take our role seriously to make sure our local health care needs are met. 

“Unfortunately health care can be very expensive. There are people in the community who can’t afford a lot of the services and so they only get lab work done when we offer the community health fair.”

During the fair, lab work is offered for $10 and free flu shots are available.

“We want to protect public health and provide flu shots,” Whitt said. “It’s unfortunate that due to COVID we couldn’t have our full health fair, but right now it’s not possible with all the vendors involved, there’s not a safe way to do that. We wanted to be able to offer the most important part, and that’s the lab work and the flu shots.”

While flu shots are encouraged every year, Whitt said with COVID-19 still present, it’s even more important.

“Flu shots are extremely critical this year,” Whitt said. “Health care around the state and the nation is dealing with COVID, and if they have to deal with a flu outbreak at the same time it could overwhelm our health care system. It’s important to be proactive and flu shots are an important part of managing that.”

Those who are unable to attend the health fair are encouraged to get flu shots either at the local clinics, pharmacies, or wherever they are provided, Whitt said.

“Wherever people chose to get (the flu shot), it’s important for them to get it,” he said.

In 2019, the hospital system administed about 350 lab tests and the same number of flu shots, and an estimated 500 people attended the health fair.

This year, to be able to provide services and maintain social distancing, the event was expanded to three days and there is also a drive-through format.

“We chose to spread it over three days to allow more people to access those services and to keep people safe,” Whitt said. “We also encourage people to register on the hospital homepage. It makes our data entry much faster and allows us to move people through a lot quicker.”

•josborne@mysoutex.com•

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