LRGHealthcare recently obtained two capillary blood lead level testing machines for use in both Westside Family Practice in Franklin and Newfound Family Practice in Bristol. The machines were purchased through a combined effort between LRGHealthcare and a grant from the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority (NHHFA) as part of an initiative of the Franklin-Newfound Area Healthy Homes Committee (a committee of the local public health network, Caring Community Network of the Twin Rivers).
Having lead testing machines located in the medical office practices makes it easier and more convenient to screen a child for lead. The machines in the medical office require only a finger stick to obtain the blood sample versus having to go to a laboratory to get a venous blood draw. Additionally, children can get screening during their regular office visit, avoiding a special trip to the lab.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes that regular blood lead level screenings is especially important for children living in high risk communities. High risk areas are defined by communities with a large stock of pre-1978 housing where lead paint was heavily utilized. Recent data published by the New Hampshire Healthy Homes & Lead Poisoning Prevention Program indicated that only 37% of children ages 12 to 23 months and 19% of children ages 24 to 35 months in the Franklin area have been screened for lead. There is much room for improvement, as it is recommended that all children be screened in both of these age brackets if they live in a high risk community.
It is also recommended that a child in the age three to six ranges be screened if they have not previously been screened at a younger age. Thus, by having the machines easily accessible in the two area clinics rates of screening are expected to increase, and this will lead to earlier identification and treatment of potentially devastating health consequences.
For more information, contact Melissa Rizzo, Community Health Educator at Franklin Regional Hospital at 934-2060 ext. 8369.