FARMINGTON — Because blood can provide many clues about a person's health, San Juan Regional Medical Center on Wednesday will offer low-cost blood screenings for adults 18 and older.

Screenings will take place at San Juan College, and options include five different tests that can serve as early-warning indicators of various medical problems.

One test on offer, the "Thyroid Profile," measures the amount of hormones in the blood that are produced by the thyroid gland, explained San Juan Regional Medical Center's Client Services Coordinator, Katie Hunter.

"These hormones have a lot to do with regulating our metabolism and how our bodies use energy," said Hunter. "This test can tell if someone's hormones are too low, which is called hypo, or are too high, which is called hyper. The body likes to have a balance of these hormones, so when you look at these test results in conjunction with other symptoms, such as tiredness, weight gain, or feeling too cold, a doctor can determine if there is a thyroid issue."

Hunter said that another test offered, the "Comprehensive Metabolic Panel," provides information on the current status of a patient's kidney and liver, and also checks electrolyte and acid balance in the blood. Blood sugar levels, which can indicate conditions such as diabetes, also are measured, as are protein, calcium and nutritional levels.

The "Lipid Profile" test checks cholesterol levels in the blood.

"If the cholesterol level is high, (the patient) could be developing clogs in their arteries, which could lead to a heart attack or stroke," Hunter said.

The"Hemoglobin/Hematocrit" test examines the percentage of red blood cells in the body. This test, Hunter said, is often used to detect anemia and to measure how well the blood is being oxygenated.

A final test option, the "Prostate Specific Antigen," or PSA, is administered to males only and screens for prostate cancer. It also measures PSA levels in men who have already been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Hunter said the hospital offers the low-cost blood tests twice a year, once in April and once in October.

"We do this to benefit the community because we know a lot of people are uninsured or under-insured. The testing allows those who do not have a doctor the opportunity to get a current status on their health," she said. And if something abnormal is detected in a patients' blood, she said, a hospital pathologist will contact the patient directly and will work with the patient to help him or her obtain health care.

"If they do not have a physician, we can help set them up with a primary care physician," she said. "The hospital is always willing to work with patients in that regard."

Hunter acknowledges that some people are squeamish about giving blood, but said the hospital's team of professional phlebotomists works with the patients to make sure their questions are answered, and that the procedure is thoroughly explained.

Want to Go?

What: San Juan Regional Medical Center low-cost blood screenings

When: 6 - 9 a.m., Wednesday

Where: Henderson Fine Arts Building, Room 9006, San Juan College, 4601 College Boulevard, Farmington

Cost: $10-$15 depending on test, payable by cash or check only (no credit or debit cards accepted)

More info: Visit San Juan Regional, or call 505-609-6449

Mechelle Morales is the hospital's lead phlebotomist, and has been involved in administering the low-cost blood screenings for the past six years. Morales said three or four phlebotomists usually are present at the event to draw blood.

"We always ask if (patients) are nervous or afraid, or if they've ever fainted, etc., and we ask them if they would rather have us tell them when we're ready to draw the blood or not tell them," said Morales. "Usually if we just keep them distracted, they get through the (blood) draw pretty well."

Morales said up to two hundred people usually attend the screening events, but she would like to see this number increase.

"I would love to see three hundred or more. That would be awesome," she said. 

The "Lipid Profile," "Thyroid Profile," "PSA" and "Hemoglobin/Hematocrit" tests cost $10 each, and the "Comprehensive Metabolic Panel" costs $15.

Hunter said those coming for screening on Wednesday need to fast for twelve hours before the test to ensure accuracy. Water is permitted. All blood tests are administered on a first come, first served basis. Test results will be mailed to the person receiving the test within five to 14 days after the test.

Leigh Irvin can be reached at 505-564-4610; lirvin@daily-times.com. Follow her on Twitter www.twtter.com/irvindailytimes.