SEMRHI celebrates National Community Health Center Week - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

SEMRHI celebrates National Community Health Center Week

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Hattiesburg residents can take advantage of free health screenings as local clinics celebrate National Community Health Center Week.

The Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative began nearly 40 years ago to provide preventative healthcare for those with little income, no insurance or limited transportation.

One of the original founders and former CEO, Kaye Ray, is the namesake of the Hattiesburg campus.

Now, SEMRHI serves 24 schools and has 15 health centers.

Staff and city officials held a press conference this morning to thank the community and employees for their dedication.

Ray said she is pleased looking back at the growth she has seen.

"It's just been a wonderful life that I had as being able to work toward establishing health centers in these different communities," she said.  "The rural and the underserved the uninsured populations have been able to benefit to much since we set all these clinics up."

Senator Billy Hudson said before the clinics were founded in this area, people had to go through the emergency room to be able to see a doctor, but some would bypass that in fear of being turned down.  He said by the time some of them went, they were already too sick.

He thanked the clinic's staff.

"It saves lives," Hudson said.  "It prolongs lives. It relieves pain and suffering. You are making a positive difference in the lives of people every day."

Current CEO, Geroldean Dyse invited members of the community to take part in their free health screenings as part of the celebration.

"Primary care is very vital to finding things early and treating those problems so that patients can have a longer, better life," she said.

Screenings include body mass index, blood pressure, blood sugar, hemoglobin, HIV testing, prostate exams and clinical breast exams...

Mayor Johnny Dupree said he believes in the community health care system.

The clinic located on Old Airport Road in Hattiesburg is open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and no appointment is necessary for the free screenings.

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