Health chats planned

Kathryn Eastburn, Staff Writer, Greenwood Commonwealth

Greenwood Leflore Hospital and Locus Benedictus will co-host Health Chats for the Leflore County community on the first Saturday of every month, beginning August 4.

The sessions, to be held at 10 a.m., will feature a Greenwood Leflore Hospital physician addressing a health care issue of particular concern to the community. The sessions will be held at the Locus Benedictus Retreat Center, off U.S. 82, just west of Wal-Mart.

The center includes a clubhouse, a nondenominational chapel and 67 acres of land open to anyone looking for a quiet place of repose and retreat.

Dr. Joseph Assini, a podiatrist, is coordinating the series alongside Locus Benedictus board members Dr. Nancy Ehret and John Cook. Cook is also director of rehabilitation services and the Wellness Center at Greenwood Leflore Hospital.

All have high hopes for good participation in discussions aimed at making people healthier.

“This is a chance to talk about health care and health issues in a relaxed atmosphere,” Assini said. “And we’re hoping from a healthcare provider point of view that we can make a difference.”

Assini said he hopes participants will join him in a 1-mile walk at the end of each Health Chat, around the Locus Benedictus grounds.

“The grounds are beautiful, and the rose garden has come into its own,” said Ehret.

The gatherings ideally will become an opportunity for attendees to enjoy a boost to their mental, physical and spiritual health, all in one unhurried visit each month.

Topics to be covered will reflect health issues that most affect the community of Leflore County and Greenwood.

Assini said a schedule has not yet been firmed up, but among the topics to be discussed are cervical health, heart health, kidney disease, brain injury, autism, stroke awareness, wound care, childhood asthma and vaccinations, prostate and breast cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes awareness and AIDS.

“Every doctor I’ve talked to so far has said they’d be pleased to participate,” Assini said. “This could be a chance to bridge the gap with physicians, to help people see they are accessible.”

Catholic Redemptorist priests who live on the Locus Benedictus property have said they will be available to translate for Spanish-speaking people who want to attend the health chats.

The idea is for everyone to feel welcome to come together in a pleasant location to talk about becoming a healthier community for all.

Assini, who is the community physician liaison for Greenwood Leflore Hospital, had a regular health spot on WABG-TV until the station was bought out. He sees the Health Chat series as a chance to expand that kind of informal outreach.

“At one point, I demonstrated walking as a weight-loss strategy and weighed myself on the air each week,” he said. “I also cooked on the air.”

He is especially pleased that in June of next year, the Health Chat session will honor first responders and will familiarize attendees with cardiopulmonary resuscitation and how to use a portable defibrillator when someone has a heart attack.

A physician who sees many patients with complications of diabetes in his practice, Assini is from New York and lived there when the 9-11 terrorist attacks occurred, sensitizing him to the importance of first responders in a community.

“Really, I believe that knowledge is power,” he said. “It’s important that everyone in Greenwood have access to healthcare and access to answers about what they can do to be healthier.”

To learn more about upcoming Health Chats and topics to be discussed, check out Greenwood Leflore Hospital’s Facebook page; visit Locus Benedictus’ website,; and check the Coming Up calendar in the Commonwealth.

·Contact Kathryn Eastburn at 581-7215 or keastburncommonwealth-com.