MAYHEW — East Mississippi Community College is partnering with area health care agencies to connect students with resources available to deal with issues such as unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
On Tuesday, July 18, EMCC hosted a Community Health and Wellness Coalition forum at the Golden Triangle campus that was attended by representatives from regional offices of the Mississippi Department of Health, Crisis Pregnancy Center, Safe Haven, Project IMPACT, Weems Community Mental Health Center, Community Counseling Services, Baptist Memorial Hospital – Golden Triangle, OCH Regional Medical Center and the Mississippi State University Extension Service, among others.
EMCC Dean of Students Cathy Kemp said the purpose of the forum was to find out what health care services are available to students and provide that information to them.
“What we wanted to do was find out where we can send our students to receive those services,” Kemp said.
Brochures containing information about accessible health care in the six counties served by EMCC will be provided to students on all the college’s campuses this fall and the information will be posted online so that it is easily accessible to both students and the general public.
The need is great, EMCC Associate Degree Nursing instructor Karen Taylor said.
“At any given time we are impacting about 5,000 people with our Workforce Services division and our Golden Triangle, Scooba, Lion Hills, West Point and Columbus Air Force Bases campuses,” Taylor told representatives at the Tuesday meeting. “We want them to know you are available to help.”
Some services available at the various agencies include free pregnancy testing and ultrasounds, counseling, help lines and 24-hour crisis intervention for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, to name a few.
The Mississippi Department of Health provides testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections for $25.
“I am so excited about this coalition,” Community Counseling Services prevention specialist Arleen Weatherby said. “We have a lot of information and brochures we can share with you.”
Funding for the coalition comes in the form of about $23,000 in grants from the Mississippi Department of Health and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
One of the goals of the program is to help at-risk students stay in school.
“We know students affected by illness or pregnancy are more likely to drop out and our hope is that by addressing these issues we can help them complete their education,” Taylor said.