The challenge of providing health care for those without health insurance is discouraging. The state government is short of funds; the federal government is running a huge deficit; San Joaquin General and Lodi Memorial hospitals' emergency rooms are overrun and underfunded. And the cost of providing care has exceeded inflation for decades.
For all its good intentions, Su Salud, the charity that began life running an annual health fair at the Stockton Fairgrounds, was overwhelmed by the challenge it attempted.
"We would find people with high blood pressure who were walking time bombs," Su Salud founder Guillermo Vicuña told us this past week. "We couldn't do anything (but diagnose them)." Referring poor patients to the area's meager health services aimed at the indigent was futile when the health care attracted thousand upon thousands of ill patients.
It would have been easy to give up.
But Su Salud has reinvented itself under a new mission statement: "To Prevent Is to Cure - Prevenir es Curar."
Rather than raise false hopes, Su Salud has created its Tour of Life - a five-hour gathering that teaches prevention through the use of models, diagrams and words. Because many of San Joaquin County's poorest citizens struggle to read, there is minimal written information.
This innovative approach to teaching people to lower their cholesterol, weight, blood pressure and tendency to get dental cavities, will come to Lodi's St. Anne's School Saturday, March 7.
The aim is to attract 500 families.
Certain limited medical services will be given - cholesterol and blood pressure testing and immunization for tetanus, pertussis, diphtheria, hepatitis B and some other diseases.
Vicuña told us that Lodi's reaction to the Tour of Life has been overwhelming. St. Anne was quick to offer its gym, volunteers have stepped forward to organize the event. His group needs two more things from Lodi:
• More health professionals to see and talk to patients on the 7th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nurses, emergency medical technicians, medical office staff members and other health professionals who want to volunteer should call Su Salud at 320-6216. A training session will be scheduled soon.
• It takes $22,000 to run a Tour of Life. That's where any Lodian can make a contribution. To us, Su Salud's "to prevent is to cure" approach makes sense.
We will be sending a check to Su Salud, 401 E. Main St., Stockton, CA 95202.
- Lodi News-Sentinel