DL Rotarians offering $35 blood screening that could save lives
Dr. George Portilla is an Essentia Health general surgeon who has seen his share of silent killers over the years. Who lives and who dies often depends on one thing. "If you can catch it early enough," he said. "But a lot of time people take the ...
Dr. George Portilla is an Essentia Health general surgeon who has seen his share of silent killers over the years.
Who lives and who dies often depends on one thing.
“If you can catch it early enough,” he said. “But a lot of time people take the head-in-the-sand approach to health care, and they’re just not going to think about it until it becomes problematic, but by the time something happens, it can have much graver consequences.”
This is why Detroit Lakes Noon Rotarians are once again pairing with Essentia Health and Sanford Health in Detroit Lakes to hold the 25th annual Blood Screening Event, set for Sept. 15-19.
Throughout the week, roughly 2,200 people filter through the Essentia Health Clinic doors, and as they do, some potentially deadly diseases are also filtered out.
Dr. Portilla says throughout the years he’s been helping out with the blood screening, he has personally seen many patients whose lives may be owed to the event.
“Many times,” he said. “Every year things turn up, and people are coming in for an endoscopy because of something that was found in their blood screening.”
For instance, he says, colon cancer is a silent killer that can lurk in a seemingly perfectly healthy body, and although it is very preventable and treatable, by the time there are actual symptoms, it is often too progressed for a good outcome.
This is only one scenario that can possibly be eliminated through blood screening.
“The blood tests could show that person as being anemic,” explained Portilla. “Colon cancer is like a raw area in the colon that’s growing, and a little bit of blood will leak from that - not enough so that you can see, but that little tiny bit of blood can, over time, make you anemic.”
Anemia is something people might not know they have, but will show up on these tests. It can simply mean a person just needs more iron, but it can mean more serious things as well.
Other indicators are pinpointed in these screening – ones that put people at risk for heart attacks, strokes, liver disease, diabetes and much more.
Certain types of medications may be causing liver damage to people who might not realize it. Rising liver function tests can catch that as well, allowing people the chance to talk with their physicians to get it switched.
All it takes is a quick stop into the Essentia clinic where five stations will be set up in the lobby of the east side of the building. One little blood draw provides medical professionals all they need to do a panel of blood tests, including ones for cholesterol, triglycerides, high density lipoproteins, low density lipoproteins, glucose (blood sugar), creatinine (kidney function), hemoglobin, white blood count and liver.
The opportunity to get this kind of testing is relatively rare, as Portilla says doctors don’t just order an array of tests like this for no reason.
“Insurance doesn’t pay for this kind of thing anymore, unless somebody comes in with symptoms,” he said, adding that because of that, those silent killers are free to grow until something happens.
With the Rotary Blood Screening, the cost to each person is only $35, which is a fraction of the roughly $400 it would cost somebody to have this done otherwise.
(After the clinics takes out their costs, the rest of the $35 is giving back to the Noon Rotary for its scholarship programs.)
People will get their test results in the mail within seven days of their screening.
Detroit Lakes Noon Rotarian Adrienne Buboltz, who is helping coordinate the event, says people will come from all over the region to take advantage of the blood screening every year because it’s a relatively rare one in the area.
“Others have tried it, but can’t get the support they need from the medical community,” said Buboltz, who says clinic staff from both Essentia and Sanford take on a tremendous amount of work for this event, particularly lab staff at the clinics.
“And so we are just so fortunate and grateful that here in Detroit Lakes, we have such a cooperative medical community that supports it,” said Buboltz. “Everyone works together to make this happen.”
And because this has been happening in Detroit Lakes for 25 years now, people involved have essentially mastered the process to make it efficient.
There is a test-run for hospital employees and foundation workers on Sept. 11, while local businesses that pay for their employees to be screened will go in Sept. 12.
Sep. 15-19, it’s open to the public through the east door of the Essentia Health clinic.
“Usually people can get in and out pretty quickly, but the best thing to do is, if you have the luxury, not to rush in at 6:30 a.m. when it starts at 7 a.m. to fight with all the people who need to be at work,” said Buboltz. “Around 8 or 8:30 a.m. you can usually waltz on through, and it goes pretty fast.”
As of last year there is also now the ability for somebody to sign a release so that if they choose, the report can go directly to the clinic where they doctor at, providing efficiency at the next level if it’s needed.
There is no need to make an appointment; just show up at the east doors between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., and remember to fast about 12 hours before going in for the screening.