Kayleigh James was struggling to keep up with her 1-year-old daughter, Emma. After 11 months of dieting and exercising, James is 93 pounds lighter and no longer overweight.

“I have so much more energy. For such a long time, I was having a hard time keeping up with (Emma) and now she has to keep up with me,” said James, during a free health screening at Metroplex Hospital. “I’m actually in a healthy body fat percentage. It’s super exciting.”

James attended the event to keep up with her health without having to pay to see a doctor every few months.

“It’s so easy, and it’s a good way to know how you’re actually doing,” said James, who also went to a free screening last year after the hospital’s annual 5K. “It helps keep track of my health and keeps me on the right track. Just because I’m at a healthy weight doesn’t mean I’m actually healthy.”

James said “it’s awesome” that the nonprofit hospital offers free programs as part of its mission.

About 60 people attended the event, which is part of Metroplex’s “Love Your Heart” initiative during heart month, sponsored by the American Heart Association.

Services include screenings of cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, bone density, body fat percentage, body mass index as well as an “Ask the Doctor” session with two family practitioners. There will be another free screening from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday in conference room five of the Rollins Brook Community Hospital in Lampasas.

Pati G. Thomas, a Metroplex spokeswoman, said the event is an opportunity for uninsured or underinsured residents to get health care they may not receive otherwise.

“Sometimes these screening are hard to get. You have to set up appointments and also pay for them,” she said. “If (residents) come at least once a year for this, they can catch up with their numbers.”

During the event, residents also toured the hospital’s cardiovascular unit.

Tammy Rodriguez, director of cardiovascular services, said the hospital’s emergency room treats heart attacks 24/7 and has all the tools and equipment needed for total cardiovascular care.

“We’re able to take care of you from the very beginning to the very end to make your heart healthy,” she said. “(Residents) don’t have to go to Austin or Temple; they can stay in their community and their families can come visit, and it’s not a hardship.”

About two years ago, Ivelisse Rivera moved to Texas from Germany, where she had free basic insurance. Now, the uninsured Killeen resident is looking for ways to keep up with her health.

“I like Metroplex because it doesn’t matter if you have money or not, they’re preoccupied with the wellbeing of patients,” Rivera said. “You feel like family when you come to this hospital.”

During the screening, Rivera learned her bone density is not healthy, so she talked with doctors and volunteers about ways to improve it, including exercise.

It’s a wake-up call because you realize where your health stands, she said. “If I hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t have known what to do to improve it.”

Contact Sarah Rafique at srafique@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7549. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

I'm the education reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald. Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SarahRafique

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