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By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
Great State Alabama is returning to Coosa County this year to once again hold a free dermatology clinic for area residents as part of a series of rural clinics.
The clinic held last October has so far been Great State’s most successful clinic to date according to Daniel Sparkman, executive director of Great State. Thanks to last year’s success, he said the organization is looking forward to returning to Rockford to offer the service again this year.
The free dermatology clinic and skin cancer screening will be held next Friday, August 19, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Coosa County E-911 Center located on Communication Drive in Rockford.
Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments can also be made online at https://bit.ly/3PjNetO. The event is hosted by the government of Coosa County, and there is a Facebook event to help area residents be reminded of the clinic, with that event page being accessible at https://fb.me/e/1K96yOCEp.
Great State Alabama is conducting these rural clinic tours through a series of single-day events across the state to help provide dermatology and family medical services in underserved areas. The clinics provide a range of free examinations, diagnosis and treatments, such as the one in Rockford that will be for dermatology needs and skin cancer screenings.
While the clinic is focused on Coosa County residents, those from outside of the county are also welcome to take part in the free clinic.
Based on last year’s event, appointments will generally take about 10 minutes. This free clinic will give Coosa County residents and others the opportunity to have skin concerns checked for potential skin cancer or other dermatology issues.
Great State is a 501(c)3 organization that “endeavors to support, advocate and drive improvement in the lives of the most vulnerable and marginalized men, women and children.”
Great State Alabama reports that in 65 of Alabama’s 67 counties there is a shortage of doctors and that Alabama ranks fortieth in the country in the number of physicians per capita.
Additionally, the organization recognizes that an issue in the state is the lack of access to quality healthcare in specialty fields, such as dermatology. The organization notes that specialists serving rural and underserved areas are rare, which results in patients “ignoring pressing medical issues such as advancing skin cancers and systemic signs of skin disease.”
According to the “Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology,” the geographic density of dermatologists per 100,000 people indicates that eight areas of Alabama have zero access to nearby dermatologists, more geographic gaps than any neighboring southeastern state.
This information and statistics are what spurred Great State Alabama, a public charity organization, to provide dermatology clinics in underserved areas.
Clinics may be specifically targeted at recognizing and diagnosing potential skin cancers, or they may be general dermatology clinics by a board certified dermatologist, depending on the need of the area.
As Great State grows in capacity, it hopes to also provide free clinics in other specialties, as well as family medicine, with the cooperation of local partners and physicians.
Participation in next Friday’s free clinic is encouraged. Coosa County EMA Director Sheldon Hutcherson also mentioned the clinic at Tuesday morning’s County Commission meeting to encourage participation so that potentially more such clinics can be held locally in the future.
For more information on Great State Alabama or to keep up with other future rural clinics, visit http://greatstatealabama.org.