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Commission updated on health issues

By By JOHN DILMORE JR. Publisher
The Escambia County Commission received several reports on the state of local healthcare-related programs during their meeting Monday, and all of them were positive.
Regina Gohagan with the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) spoke to the commission about a pair of programs aimed at assisting senior citizens in the county with prescription drug payments.
The Senior RX Program, Gohagan said, has so far provided $190,000 worth of medications to 100 of Escambia County's seniors, and there are another 100 applications for help being reviewed.
The medicines are being distributed to seniors in all parts of the county.
Another program helping senior citizens pay for medications is the Ozanam Charitable Pharmacy Program. Gohagen said that this program involves picking up sample medications left with local doctors by drug reps, then taking them to the Ozanam Pharmacy in Mobile. Here, they are prepared and packaged for use by the county's seniors.
Currently, the Ozanam program is serving 250 clients in the county, providing approximately $194,000 in free medications.
Commission Chairman Larry White pointed out that the program has provided approximately $600,000 worth of free medications over the past two-and-a-half years.
The Ozanam program was originally made possible by funding from the Healthcare Authority, Gohagan said, and has since received $20,000 from the McMillan Charitable Trust.
It was also reported that a used car has been obtained for use in the Brewton area by the AAA's Lunch Bunch program, which provides meals to seniors.
Ruth Harrell, of the Coalition for a Healthier Escambia County (CHEC), addressed the commission on another healthcare-related topic -- the use of a $50,000 grant to provide dental screenings and sealant applications for children in the county schools.
Harrell also delivered to the commission the final copy of a needs assessment that the CHEC has conducted with $5,000 received from the Regional Rural Health Network.
The assessment, Harrell said, was compiled from information gathered during focus groups held in Brewton, Atmore and Flomaton.
Two of the greatest areas of need uncovered by the assessment, Harrell said, were in the areas of education and services to seniors.
Harrell also reported to the commission that all of the county's water systems were either flouridated, or devising plans to become flouridated.
In other action Monday, the commission: