Free screenings offered for pulmonary disease

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The volunteer-led “Go Blue Night for COPD,” which will bring the community together for the prevention and awareness of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, will be held Wednesday, May 23, at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake. The public can attend for free medical screenings, appetizers and a no-host bar beginning at 5:30 p.m. A free lecture for medical professionals on COPD will follow from 7-8 p.m.

The event brings together medical professionals on the front lines of the fight against COPD and those in the Flathead who may not have received adequate diagnosis or care.

Co-organizer Shannon Isakson said she and other nurses in the area were inspired to host a free screening after seeing COPD grow into a more pressing health concern in the valley. “I think there was just a lot of us nurses that were concerned that...patients are getting hospitalized more frequently for (COPD), and the readmission rates for it are just becoming a lot higher.”

COPD, a condition in which inflammation restricts airflow into the lungs, is caused by long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, most often from cigarette smoke. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, coughing, mucus production and wheezing. Those with COPD have an increased risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer or a variety of other conditions.

The free screenings are aimed to help community members, especially those who may not have acccess to quality health care or are in the early stages of COPD, take stock of their health. “These health screenings are going to help get these initial patients before it progreses,” said Isakson. “We’re hoping to make sure that we’re not letting these patients slide.”

After the screenings, Isakson and co-organizer Cathy Lisowski, in partnership with Kalispell Regional Medical Center, will each lead a lecture for medical professionals on early grades of COPD and pulmonary rehabilitation.

Though the lectures are limited to medical professionals, those with no medical experience or particular knowledge of COPD are encouraged to attend the event, said Isakson.

Go Blue for COPD, she said, has a dual purpose and is first and foremost about the community. “Number one, there are people coming together to support awareness of this disease. Number two, everyone in the Flathead Valley come, get screened, learn more, enjoy the social….we’re here.”

For more information on the event or COPD, contact Shannon Isakson at 406-490-6394.

Adrian Horton can be reached at 758-4439 or at ahorton@dailyinterlake.com

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