State Health Department Announces Free Health Screenings

"WellNYS Weekend" to be held May 4th and 5th in the Capital Region

Albany, May 3, 2001 – More than 20 local health care facilities in a seven–county area of the Capital Region are participating in the State Health Department's "WellNYS Weekend" screening program, State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., announced today.

The free health screenings will take place on May 4th and 5th. Capital Region residents will be able to get free cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes screenings, as well as information to help them assess their risk of prostate, breast and colorectal cancer and how to quit smoking. The screenings will be available at various hospitals and health care clinics in Albany, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington counties. For information about times, locations and directions to the screenings sites, individuals should call 1–800–372–8670. Operators will be available both Friday and Saturday.

"This screening project stems, in part, from New York State's Cancer Surveillance Improvement Initiative–a comprehensive project begun in 1998 at the direction of Governor George Pataki that includes the production of cancer maps and the provision of information about ways that people can reduce their cancer risk," Dr. Novello said. "We wanted to make sure that New Yorkers know all they can about cancer prevention and early detection, as well as the prevention of other life–threatening diseases. Good health can never be taken for granted. All of us must learn to establish healthy habits and start taking better care of ourselves. This includes getting health screenings and learning about risk factors so that we may promote wellness, rather than simply treat illness."

To decrease their risk of serious illness, New Yorkers should be aware of their cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and their risk for diabetes. In New York State, heart disease is the number one cause of death among men and the leading cause of death among women over the age of 35. Considering the connection between cholesterol and heart disease risk, it is important to keep your cholesterol level under control. The higher the blood cholesterol level, the greater the risk for heart disease.

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a major risk factor of heart disease and stroke. Untreated, hypertension can result in heart failure, kidney disease and visual impairment. High blood pressure can develop over many years with no noticeable symptoms. For that reason, hypertension is often called the silent killer. The only way to find out if you have hypertension is to have your blood pressure checked annually.

More than 600,000 New Yorkers have diabetes and an additional 500,000 are believed to have undiagnosed diabetes. Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that allows glucose (sugar) to enter cells and be converted into energy. Diabetes is characterized by high levels of blood glucose. When there is too much glucose in the blood, it can cause damage to vital organs and contribute to heart disease.

In the seven–county Capital Region (Albany, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington counties) the impact of these chronic conditions is especially significant.

  • An estimated 21,000 adults in the area have diabetes and don't know it. There are 15,000 diabetes–related hospital discharges per year and more than 160 deaths.
  • Lung, colorectal, prostate and breast cancer are the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the region with more than 1,100 deaths per year.
  • Approximately 60,000 area women aged 40 and older have not had a mammogram in the past two years.
  • Fewer than half of adults over 50 in the region have been screened for colorectal cancer in the last five years.
  • One in four adults in the region are current smokers.
  • The age–adjusted death rate for ischemic heart disease in the region exceeds the national rate. Stroke kills an estimated 505 people in the region each year.

Along with being screened for potential diseases, individuals can protect themselves and decrease their risk of chronic diseases by making simple lifestyle changes, including, maintaining a healthy weight; being physically active; eating low–fat meals that are high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods; quitting smoking; and seeing a health care provider at least once a year.

"I want to commend all the health care facilities that are taking part in for helping to make these screenings possible," Dr. Novello said. "Most of all, everyone who participates is to be congratulated for their willingness to screen and learn, and for taking these important steps to improve their health."

Following are screening sites, locations and times:

Albany County
Albany County Health Dept. Saturday 10–1PM
Albany Medical Center Saturday 10–12Noon
Albany Memorial Friday 8:30–4PM
St. Peter's Friday 9–12Noon
Whitney Young Friday 3–6PM
  Saturday 10–2PM
Amsterdam Memorial Friday 1–4PM
St Mary's at Amsterdam Friday 4–8PM
  Saturday 8–12N
Seton Health – St. Mary's Campus Friday 10–1PM
  Saturday 10–1PM
Samaritan Friday 8:30–4P
Benedict Family Health Center Ballston Spa Saturday 9–12Noon
Benedict Family Health Center Schuylerville Saturday 9–12Noon
Ellis Hospital Friday 1–4PM
Baptist Health Family Medical Center Friday 5–7PM
  Saturday 1–4PM
St. Clare's Hospital Friday 9–12Noon
Bellevue Woman's Hospital Saturday 9–1PM
Schenectady Family Health Center Friday 5–7PM
  Saturday 9–12Noon
Warrensburg Health Center Saturday 1–4PM
The Health Center on Broad Street Friday 5–7PM
Glens Falls Hospital at Granville Family Health Center Friday 9–12Noon
Glens Falls Hospital at Whitehall Health Center Friday 9–12Noon