North Carolina Farm Bureau, Polk County Farm Bureau donate $3,500 to local medical community

Published 1:53 pm Friday, June 10, 2011

Pictured (right to left): Amy Copeland, Saluda Medical Center; Michelle Reedy, Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry; Tonda Gosnell, Community Care of Western North Carolina; Doug Harmon, President of Polk County Farm Bureau; Jennifer Wilson, St. Luke’s Hospital; and Libby Carter, St. Luke’s Hospital. (photo submitted)

The North Carolina Farm Bureau and the Polk County Farm Bureau donated $3,500 to the local medical community in Polk County as part of the North Carolina Farm Bureau’s Healthy Living for a Lifetime initiative, which visited BI-LO in Columbus on Wednesday, May 18. During the event, 170 people received free health screenings, including cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure, body mass index, bone density and lung function.

“The North Carolina Farm Bureau understands the need for high-quality and accessible healthcare in rural North Carolina and this donation is just one way that we can help local healthcare providers address the urgent needs of Polk County residents,” said Larry Wooten, president of the North Carolina Farm Bureau.

“The Polk County Farm Bureau is honored to provide this donation to help improve the lives of our fellow Polk County residents. We appreciate the opportunity to work with the medical community here in Polk County and to continue the Farm Bureau’s commitment to giving back,” said Doug Harmon, president of the Polk County Farm Bureau.

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“We are honored to participate with Farm Bureau and Community Care of Western North Carolina to realize their mission to improve the health of the uninsured members of our rural community,” said Carol Newton, Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry executive director.

Farm Bureau funding will allow Polk County residents who are uninsured or do not have a funding source to receive the medical testing or treatment their physician has prescribed. Applicants will be screened by Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry at their White Drive offices between 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Michelle Reedy, client services coordinator at Thermal Belt Outreach, advised applicants to be prepared for their visit.

“All applicants need to bring with them proof of household income and Polk County residency in order to qualify for participation in this valuable Farm Bureau program,” said Reedy.

Bobby Tipton, the medical provider at Saluda Medical Center, counseled participants on their results and offered ways for them to improve their health.

Tipton said, “As I discussed participants’ results with them, I could see that people truly wanted to know more about their health. No matter if their numbers were good or bad, hopefully everyone came away more aware of their health and energized to make healthier lifestyle choices. I absolutely think this event made a difference in the lives of these individuals. We found one participant’s blood pressure to be dangerously high, so I left with that person to provide a full evaluation and begin treatment at Saluda Medical Center. If we were able to help just one person improve his or her health, then the effort was worth it.”

The event exceeded expectations in terms of turnout and participation from community organizations.

“I feel that the Healthy Living for a Lifetime screening was a great success. We had a great response from all of the partners that attended and I really appreciate the time they took to help make this event a success,” said Tammy Phipps, patient financial counselor at St. Luke’s Hospital and Polk Wellness Coalition team member.

Amy Copeland, administrator of Saluda Medical Center, said, “I was happily surprised by the participation of our county’s organizations. I heard many times people saying that they were unaware of all the resources available, especially for the uninsured. I am very grateful to the Farm Bureau for providing these services and bringing together these resources at one event.”

Tipton added, “When I drove up to the BI-LO parking lot I couldn’t believe all the people that were waiting. All day long people kept stopping by for the screenings that were being offered. It was really great to see that kind of interest in a health screening from our community.”

Organizations present at the event were: Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry, St. Luke’s Hospital, Saluda Medical Center, Community Care of Western North Carolina, Blue Ridge Community Health Services, Polk County Transportation Authority, Advanced Wellness Institute, Polk County Cooperative Extension, Polk County Department of Social Services, Adawehi Institute and Healing Center, Western North Carolina AIDS Project, Employment Security Commission, Dentistry 2000, Polk Wellness Center, Rutherford-Polk-McDowell District Health Department, Family Preservation Services of North Carolina, Polk County Recreation, Tryon Health and Fitness, Link Medical and Rutherford Life Services.

“We are really excited about the high turnout we had at the event, and hopefully more people understand that there are health resources available for uninsured residents of Polk County,” said Tonda Gosnell, regional HealthNet coordinator for Community Care of Western North Carolina. HealthNet is a collaborative partnership of agencies focused on services for the uninsured that is funded by the NC Office of Rural Health and Community Care.

“HealthNet is available to help residents who are in need, so we were grateful for a way to get the word out,” Gosnell said.

If you are interested in learning more about the available health resources, call Community Care of Western North Carolina at 828-348-2830, Saluda Medical Center at 828-749-4411 or Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry at 828-894-2988.

Healthy Living for a Lifetime is an innovative approach to addressing the immediate healthcare needs of rural North Carolinians while fostering awareness of healthy lifestyle choices that will result in long-term health improvements among vulnerable populations. Using a 50-foot state-of-the-art mobile health screening unit, the initiative provides rural North Carolinians with free health screenings, educational materials, and a path towards a healthier lifestyle. The unit is handicap accessible.

For more information, visit

– article submitted by Mike Garlow