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On Wednesday the community health services hosted virtual, informational sessions focusing on "Diabetes 101" to educate citizens about risk factors, prevention and management techniques.

SWLA Center for Health Services hosted men and women's health days as part of the area's 7 Days of Juneteenth Freedom Festival. On Wednesday the community health services hosted virtual, informational sessions focusing on "Diabetes 101" to educate citizens about risk factors, prevention and management techniques.

Hosting events like Wednesday's are essential to the core of SWLA's mission, Jessica Jolly, chief operations officer, said. "Unfortunately, in communities of color we're disproportionately impacted by these types of health concerns."

In order to combat these disparities, the festival took an in depth look at type one and type two diabetes with experts in podiatry, diabetes coaching and nutrition.

"They learned how to recognize signs and symptoms and how to even reverse the disease," she said. "If you're eating healthy, physically active and monitoring your blood glucose, that helps."

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Lillian Browning speaks about men's health at SWLA Health Center in Lake Charles, La., Wednesday, June 17, 2020. (Rick Hickman/Lake Charles American Press)

Many of the professionals represented at the sessions also work for the health service which provides a comprehensive primary care model for regionally undeserved communities. Unequal access, "systemic and intentional efforts" have hindered communities of color from acquiring life changing and life saving medical care, Jolly said.

"Those types of injustices have really led to us not having the access," she said. For many preventable or treatable conditions she said, "We may be getting screened but it's so late the condition has already advanced so far."

Offering pediatrics, women's and men's health, dental services and a fitness center, Jolly said SWLA offers its services on a sliding scale fee for under or uninsured patients and commercially insured patients.

"We have a rich history of serving the community because we're embedded in the community. That's a cornerstone of federally qualified health centers--access for everyone."

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