CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Did you know that diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in Tennessee and the fourth leading cause of death among the African-American community? In Hamilton County alone, a total of 91 individuals died in 2005 as a result of the disease.

To positively affect those statistics, Volunteer State Health Plan (VSHP) is collaborating with the Dodson Avenue Community Health Center, an affiliate of Erlanger Health System, to sponsor the first Diabetes Screening Fair for BlueCare and TennCareSelect members. The free and confidential fair will be held on Saturday, Oct. 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

According to Donna Elkins, manager of member education and outreach for VSHP, health screenings are necessary to properly diagnose diabetes. Since symptoms, such as frequent urination, constant hunger, weight loss and blurred vision can be mistaken for other conditions or go unnoticed, screenings serve as a vital tool to help prevent or control the disease.

“There are approximately 108,000 Tennesseans with cases of diabetes that remain undiagnosed,” Elkins said. ”The Diabetes Screening Fair gives us an opportunity to empower our members to make better choices and take control of their health.“

Community representatives from Erlanger will be onsite to provide appropriate services, such as dilated retinal eye exams, microalbumin tests and blood pressure screenings. In addition, nurses from VSHP’s CareSmart Disease Management program will help to raise awareness by educating members on nutrition and diabetes prevention.

About Volunteer State Health Plan (VSHP)

Volunteer State Health Plan is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. Founded in 1993, the Chattanooga-based company focuses on managing care and providing quality health care products, services, and information for government programs. VSHP currently serves more than 300,000 members.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.