Health care, Black History awareness importance stressed during LSCO speaker series

Published 12:20 am Saturday, March 4, 2023

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Health care services in Orange County are universal and accessible.

That was the message from Dena Gray Hughes, CEO of Tan Health care during the 50-minute talk she gave this week to approximately 100 Lamar State College Orange students.

Hughes’ presentation was the last in a four-part series made possibly by the college’s student activities and the Orange NAACP branch.

The Black History Month speaker series was held on Tuesdays in February, beginning at 11 a.m. and were open to the public.

Events covered the history of the NAACP, community service, education and health care.

Amy Moore, LSCO’s director of student life, thanked the NAACP for partnering with the college.

“This is our Black History month speaker series, and it was open to all students and the community,” Moore said. “We’ve brought in different speakers for each Tuesday of the month as a way to reach different audiences.”

Attendees listen to Lamar State College Orange speaker series about Black History. (Courtesy photo)

In connection with the speaker series, NAACP Orange hosted a blood donation drive through LifeShare, with a mobile unit spending the day on campus.

“We always bring LifeShare at least once a semester to our campus,” Moore said. “We know that there’s a blood shortage in the area and nationwide, so we always want to provide a way to partner with LifeShare and have that opportunity for our students as well as our faculty and staff.”

Hughes’ presentation explored the contributions of African Americans to healthcare, health disparities in African American communities and the accessibility and universal nature of TAN Healthcare.

As Hughes explained the community health care model, she encouraged students to consider employment with TAN Healthcare.

“I want you to consider community health care as one of your choices,” she said. “We have a need for dedicated, energized providers like you in this field. We do internships, we do externships.”

TAN health care provides primary care, behavioral health, counseling, pediatrics, sexual health, pharmacy services and health education.

As a federally qualified health center, TAN Healthcare provides services to all —inability to pay is not a barrier. Although services aren’t free, visits and copays may be as low as $25.

“I want there to be an awareness around health care that is universal, but yet we have to still be compassionate to the individual,” Hughes said.

In discussing the nonmedical factors that influence health outcomes, Hughes detailed some of the services the TAN Healthcare provides to Orange County like transportation to appointments and telehealth.

She provided context to explain why some in the community may not seek care.

“The African American community is hesitant to access the health care system because of [Tuskegee Experiment],” Hughes said. “It wasn’t that long ago. We do have issues with the delivery of healthcare.”

LifeShare and TAN Healthcare detailed how the COVID-19 pandemic may impact the delivery of health services in Orange County.

Annette Harmon-Edwards of LifeShare highlighted the importance of blood donation due to depleted inventory post COVID-19 and encouraged those in attendance to consider donating.

“LifeShare must collect approximately 500 units a day to meet patients’ blood needs,” she said. “Blood donation benefits, cancer patients, bowel and stomach patients, heart patients, burn victims, accident victims, liver and kidney patients, babies and pregnant women, and hemophiliacs.”

LSCO’s speaker series ended with remarks by NAACP Orange President the Rev. John Jefferson, a member of Mt. Olive Baptist Church of Orange.

He encouraged those in attendance to continue their commemoration of Black History Month beyond February.

“Carter Woodson was the original founder of Black History month, along with Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass,” he said. “We appreciate Black History month being in February, but Black History is January 1-December 31. We need to celebrate Black History and American history all as one.”

LifeShare’s local donation center is located at 4305 Laurel Street in Beaumont and can be reached at 409-838-5289. Prospective donors may also donate by visiting a mobile blood drive.

TAN health care in Orange is located on 3737 N. 16th St. and can be reached at 409-920-4223.

— Written by Shari Hardin