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The Medical Center of South Arkansas will hold a health fair this week, in conjunction with First Baptist Church Cordell, to help bring awareness to mental health and emotional health.

“The reason that we’re doing this is that it’s a topic that’s tough for families to address, whether it’s because of the loss of a loved one or because of (post-traumatic stress disorder) or because of depression and anxiety. A lot of people are reluctant to step out and ask for help,” said Catherine Noyes, MCSA marketing director.

The event, titled “Caring for Our Community,” will be held in the First Baptist Church Cordell Fellowship Hall and Chapel, at 620 Cordell Ave., from 10 a.m. until about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. Guest speakers will give presentations on various topics related to mental health, treatment and resources available in the area.

The day will begin with a talk from Dr. Althea Conley, a certified psychiatrist who will speak about mental health conditions and treatment. After that, MCSA representatives will speak about their Family Connect Community Program for Infants, where registered nurses from MCSA’s Women’s Center offer free home visits to new mothers.

Dr. D.L. Hegler, pastor at Douglas Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, will talk next about being a clinical Christian counselor. Christian counselors often take a faith-based approach when tending their flock’s mental health issues, but without certification, not all pastors will be equipped for every situation.

“When they do ask for help, they most often go to their pastor, who may or may not be equipped to give them the information they need for the specific situation they are in,” Noyes said.

Cheryl Howell, a board member for Turning Point Violence Intervention Center, will speak to attendees about domestic violence prevention and intervention. She is also expected to cover several facets of sexual assault one could face in a domestic situation, like incest and marital rape.

“Turning Point is a place that a family, a woman and her children, can go, at any time, 24 hours a day, and get help,” Noyes said. “It’s so important. People that may not want other people to know what’s happening in their homes, they can come there to get information and then just follow it up anonymously and privately.”

Lunch will be provided in the Fellowship Hall, followed by a talk from MCSA representative Kendall Wilson, a registered nurse and MCSA’s trauma director.

He will talk about the process one undergoes when they check into an emergency room.

“He’s going to talk about what happens when you or your loved one come into the ER, whether it’s because of a trauma, a sexual assault, an overdose, a behavioral health issue … [People don’t] always feel like an emergency room is a safe place, because they don’t know what’s going to happen,” Noyes said. “This can give them a one-on-one with the people, the director of our department, to tell them ‘this is what happens in the ER.’ The goal of the ER is to make sure a person is stable, then they address the next issues.”

Part of the reason MCSA partnered with First Baptist Cordell was to give the hospital a face in the community; Noyes said it is important for those in the community to know that they can come to the hospital any time to receive services, no matter who they are.

“All of the ministers in the area love outreach, but sometimes they need something more,” Noyes said. “One of their (First Baptist Cordell) specific goals was to make our hospital friendlier – to let people from the community meet us, and know us and know that we’re here to respond to any community members needs.”

Robin Thrower, in medical withdrawal management at MCSA, will talk to attendees about a new program the hospital started this year, where patients dealing with addiction, whether it be to drugs or alcohol, can stay at the hospital for three to five days to receive care while they experience withdrawal symptoms.

Representatives from the Veteran’s Administration Clinic will speak after lunch about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Both veterans and non-veterans may struggle with PTSD; the condition is diagnosed in those who have difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event.

Representatives from the South Arkansas Regional Health Center will cover depression in teenagers and children after that. Jill Weinischke, executive director of the TOUCH Coalition, will speak afterwards on more issues teens could face.

“They (TOUCH Coalition) deal with teens – everything from addiction to education. Any kind of issue a teen might have during their teen years, that’s what Jill Weinischke works with, and so does the South Arkansas Regional Health Center,” Noyes said.

Tyler Turner, outreach coordinator for Life Touch Hospice, will talk about support groups offered at the hospice center for those who have lost loved ones. Dr. Ivory Kinslow will speak next about the Compassionate Friends, a support group for those whose children have died.

The health fair will take place throughout the day; Noyes said she hopes those in attendance are able to talk one-on-one with the various speakers to learn more about resources available in the area.

“What we’re hoping to do is by having these nonprofits from around the community there, and to speak on it, is that they will also have a chance to speak one-on-one to them at their tables in the health fair portion, and then the community will know more about what the resources are here and where to go to have private one-on-one conversations,” Noyes said.

Wednesday’s event will be the second in a series of health fairs held by MCSA in 2019. Earlier this year, they held a more traditional health fair that focused health conditions common in this region. There is a third health fair planned for the fall.

There will be giveaways and door prizes given out during the health fair; lunch is provided.

The Caring for Our Community health fair and exposition is free to the public and open to all ages. Reservations are not required, but are requested; to RSVP, text Angela Roberson at 870-314-1815 or call First Baptist Church Cordell at 870-863-8328.

Caitlan Butler can be reached at 870-862-6611 or



10 a.m.: Doors open

10:05 a.m.: The Rev. Pierce Moore, opening remarks

10:15 a.m.: Dr. Althea Conley, certified psychiatrist

11:15 a.m.: MCSA Women’s Center, Family Connect Community Program for Infants

11:30 a.m.: Dr. D.L. Hegler, clinical Christian counselor

11:45 a.m.: Cheryl Howell, Turning Point Violence Intervention Center, “Change Your Future”

Noon: Lunch provided in the Fellowship Hall

Noon: Kendall Wilson, MCSA RN and trauma director, “How does the ER respond to overdose or suicide attempts?”

Noon: Robin Thrower, medical withdrawal management, MCSA in-patient withdrawal management program

1 p.m.: Veteran’s Clinic, PTSD

1:15 p.m.: South Arkansas Regional Health Center, depression in teenagers and children

1:30 p.m.: Jill Weinishcke, exectutive director of the TOUCH Coalition, teen issues

1:45 p.m.: Tyler Turner, Life Touch Hospice outreach coordinator, “Support After Loss of Loved One”

2 p.m.: Dr. Ivory Kinslow, Compassionate Friends, coping with the loss of a child

2:30 p.m.: Expo closes


An earlier version of this story listed an incorrect address for First Baptist Church Cordell.

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