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Cedarville U. pharmacy students provide free screenings at Xenia shelter

A homeless shelter in Xenia has partnered with the pharmacy program at Cedarville University to provide free healthcare screenings.

Cedarville pharmacy students provided free health screenings in March for individuals staying at Bridges of Hope, 1087 W. Second St. The students will be returning on Wednesday to provide screenings on blood pressure, blood sugar and counseling the people about medications, according to a release from Cedarville University.

The student group hopes to build a long-term relationship with the shelter, which opened shortly before Christmas.

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First-year pharmacy student Christy Varghese is part of Cedarville’s student chapter of the American Pharmacy Association. Varghese has taken a leading role in an initiative to educate the public about heart health. She responded when a shelter representative contacted her group about providing free screenings.

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About eight students will be providing the free clinic on Wednesday.

Varghese said they provided screenings and counseled about 25 people last month and she expects to serve about the same number of people next week.

“They were very interested in what we were doing there. One of the volunteers told us ‘they’re going to remember you guys’ ... I think they really enjoyed having us there and appreciated the service,” she said.

Varghese said it’s important for them to go out into the community and help people.

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“It’s surprising how some people don’t know that they have some kind of condition like high blood pressure or blood sugar. Sometimes when you don’t feel bad you have no idea that something is going on inside your body,” she said. “There’s been times when I’ve taken somebody’s blood pressure and it’s like way high, scary high, and they don’t even know.”

Marlene Labig, vice president of the Bridges of Hope board and the shelter liaison, said 24 to 30 people are using the shelter each night, and during winter more than 105 individuals stayed at the renovated former Simon Kenton school building. 

"The Cedarville students have been a great partner for us," Labig said. 

The students advised the people at the shelter about medications and how to use them correctly. The students also provided opioid disposal bags and information about drug drop-off boxes. 

"(The students) have helped some of the residents find better ways to manage their medications and talk to them about their options," Labig said. "I'm looking forward to them being there again Wednesday night."

In the future, the student group plans to provide flu shots at the shelter.

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