Barry Shapiro, pharmacist and owner of the Idyllwild Pharmacy. Photo by J.P. Crumrine

After months of preparation, Idyllwild Pharmacy’s owner Barry Shapiro is offering free screenings for diabetes. He has been working with business partners and local health officials to provide this service to the community.

November is American Diabetes Month and on Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., free screenings will be available at the Pharmacy. More than 25 million Americans have diabetes and nearly a quarter of them are undiagnosed. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and contributes to heart conditions.

Besides blood sugar or glucose tests, an A1C test will also be available. This test reads the level of hemoglobin with attached glucose. The result is a measure of the glucose level over the past two to three months. The blood glucose test reveals the level at the time of the test.

Together they reveal both the current glucose levels and the trend for the past several months.

Blood pressure readings will also be available. Nearly two-thirds of diabetics older than 20 had high blood pressure.

Brenda Scherliss, family nurse practitioner at the Idyllwild Health Center, will be available from noon until 2 p.m. for preliminary eye exams. Diabetes is a cause of retinopathy. If the exam indicates it might be present, Scherliss will recommend seeing an opthamologist.

Also attending will be Bill Whitman, owner of Whitman Physical Therapy. Exercise is an important component of diabetics health management, according to Shapiro. Whitman will also be available from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. to consult on lower back pain and postural screening.

Producing this health fair couldn’t have happened without his partners, Bayer Healthcare and Good Neighbor Pharmacy, of which Shapiro is a member, he said.

“This is just an example of big and small businesses cooperating,” Shapiro said.

In addition, during the Fair, as on any day, Shapiro will accept old medicines for disposal rather than emptying them into the local groundwater system. He cannot accept control medicines, basically narcotics, or containers larger than 4 oz.