Kidney screenings scheduled

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 23, 2008

King’s Daughters Medical Center will open its doors to thepublic next weekend for a free checkup that will examine thefunction of one of the body’s most important organs.

The hospital will conduct a renal screening Saturday from 9 a.m.until noon, where blood and urine samples will be collected fromparticipants and sent to a lab for analysis to determine thecondition of the kidneys.

Hospital spokesperson JoAnna Sproles said the screening isdesigned to be a more-comprehensive, health-specific compliment tothe hospital’s annual January health fair, where only basic healthreadings are taken.

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“This a much more involved screening,” she said. “And it’s alittle more invasive. We will be collecting one or two tubes ofblood and collecting a urine sample to look more closely at kidneyfactors not available at our yearly health fair.”

Sproles said KDMC agreed to partner with Southwest Nephrologyand the Mississippi Kidney Foundation to host the screening inorder to fulfill an unmet need for kidney diagnostics inBrookhaven.

“We have a lot of kidney conditions and ailments in SouthwestMississippi related to hypertension and diabetes,” she said. “A lotof people don’t realize that they have these problems, and ifsomeone had a condition and let it go too long, the damage could beirreversible. By conducting this screening we can catch some ofthese problems early on and get nephrologists involved earlier inthe process.”

Sproles said the hospital jumped at the chance to host thescreening so its team of four nephrologists – who will be on handat the screening to meet visitors and answers questions aboutkidney health – could make their faces and abilities known to thepublic.

“Even if someone doesn’t have a kidney problem right now, buttheir family history shows they may have a problem in the future,this screening will be a perfect opportunity for them to starttalking to a doctor,” she said. “It’s something we don’t often haveappointments for, and now would be a good time to get face-to-facewith our nephrologists.”

One of the nephrologists who will be present at the screening tomeet with the public is Dr. James Hall, an experienced kidneyexpert who has taken part in similar screenings before.

Hall said the screening would not only collect blood and urinesamples, but would also conduct other tests related to kidneydiagnostics, such as checking blood sugar and blood pressure. Hesaid high blood pressure could be an indicator of kidneymalfunction, as it can either cause or be a result of kidneydisease.

Hall further touted the importance of the screening, becausesave for a few factors like blood pressure, kidney disease canexist without symptoms and can leave a person unaware until it istoo late.

“In Mississippi and the South in general, we have a very, veryhigh prevalence of diabetes, hypertension and kidney disease – thismulti-factorial screening looks for any of those related elements,”Hall said. “People know they have diabetes because it makes themfeel bad and causes symptoms. Something like hypertension doesn’tdo that – someone could be totally oblivious.”

Hall said he expects plenty of Brookhaven’s health-consciousresidents to show up at the screening. But he is really lookingforward to speaking to those who are basically strangers to healthcare.

“I really hope we can get those people who hate doctors, whonever go to the hospital – those are the people I really want tosit down and have a talk with,” he said. “Those are the people thatcould have problems and not know. They’re the most needfulpopulation out there.”

Hall said the black population in particular should takeadvantage of the screening, as the genetic and cultural differencebetween blacks and an already less than health conscious South putsthem at risk for kidney disease.

“Blacks are already at risk for kidney disease, and they make upmost of the hypertension cases we see,” he said. “Some if it’sgenetic, but some of it’s dietary – we season our food a lot, use alot of salt. Salt restriction is very important in most bloodpressure cases, and very important among black patients.”

Hall said he would not be upset if the entire city attended thescreening this weekend, noting that health awareness is animportant part of health care. It also a factor that needs muchimprovement, he said.

“I ask a lot of my patients, ‘How much money have you spent onyour car this year?'” Hall said. “Then I ask them, ‘How much haveyou spent on your body?’ Now, think about which one is moreimportant…”