Medical Screening Media Day

Trailer of the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey outside the Texas Medical Center.
Trailer of the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey outside the Texas Medical Center.

With the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), also came Media Day, as access to the rooms was given by tour outside the Texas Medical Center.

Located near the University of Houston College of Pharmacy, the survey’s media day travels across the country, and now made Harris County its traveling stop. Medical Examination Center (MEC) Manager Baldemar Gomez talks about the participants who are randomly chosen to take these medical studies.

“They (the participants) are a mix of gender, age, and ethnic background,” Gomez said.

“They also do a household interview which can last to about an hour.”

In detail, the survey’s study director Jenni Echols explains the process of choosing the participants for the checkups.

“We form small groups, about 24 groups, and then we selectively sample about 30 households within each group,” Echols told.

“A computer algorithm randomly selects some, all, or none of the household members,” Echols said.

Established since 1959, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey have conducted studies of health and nutritional statuses of individuals living in the United States, like the title given in the survey group. What makes this survey unique from all others is that it combines interviews and physical examinations. Julissa Oviedo, a volunteer, took part of those exams as the medical staff held a run-through to test the equipment. Although Julissa speaks Spanish only, she was delighted to know about a few bilingual members there who speak her language, as, she said, they made her feel comfortable to be here and testing the equipment for efficiency.

Steve Trumbore, on the other hand, isn’t a volunteer and works in the lab as their technician. He was chosen by a process NHANES makes to bring qualified individuals in their staff.

“What they do is advertise,” Trumbore said.

“For instance, if a doctor were to quit, they advertise for another doctor.”

Trumbore also said that those in their respective fields are chosen to do their field of study.

“If they get lab techs, they got to be licensed lab techs. The ideate people are dieticians,” Trumbore said.

One of the things the Pennsylvanian native does is the lab work of the samples, including a prediabetes test called the glucose tolerance test.

To an extent, the glucose tolerance test is done after the participant, male or female, completes a blood test out of the many tests and physical examinations in the survey. Then, the participant ingests a sugar solution liquid, takes their second blood test, and later shows how the body breaks down the sugar and notifies that to the participant. All test results and individual’s information, whether they volunteered or participated, is kept confidential.

NHANES will do this at their next destination in an upcoming U.S. state county.


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