The University of Alabama and Pickens County are working together so rural residents can get the health care they need.

A health fair in at the Pickens County Medical Center HealthPlex in Carrollton today offered residents a chance to get checkups they may have been neglecting, and offered students a chance to learn.

“Having students in the county is very beneficial for Pickens County,” said Project Coordinator Wilamena Dailey. “Because when you have those extra hands, that also brings more resources.”

The health fair is also a chance to showcase the many resources Pickens County has to offer low-income and rural residents.

“(The HealthPlex) is a terrific facility,” said UA College of Community Health Sciences Dean Dr. Richard Streiffer. “And it’s a good example of really excellent resources available in a rural area, despite the common perception that the rural counties don’t have anything to offer.”

But, he said, like so many other rural hospitals, the Pickens County Medical Center has its struggles.

Streiffer said educating rural residents about their local resources is vital to the existence of health facilities like the hospital.

“Without business, hospitals like this and the facilities they have to offer are going to ultimately close,” he said. “And then the access to health care in rural counties will be even worse.”

Free health screenings were on offer at the fair, and residents could have their blood pressure, weight and cholesterol checked.

Hospital Wellness Director Jeremy Enslyn said those checkups help make events like this a success.

“It’s very attractive to the community, because everything we are doing up here doesn’t cost the community a thing,” he said. “You can come up here and find out a lot of information about your own health.”

UA students like Ginger Morgan recognize the service they’re bringing to underserved communities like Pickens County.

“These screenings may be some people’s only way of learning about their own blood and their own (cholestrol) levels,” she said. “So it can help people create a better diet to help them live a healthier lifestyle.”

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