SMOKEY POINT — Dozens of area residents took the opportunity to get free health screenings at the Cascade Skagit Health Alliance’s free community health fair on Saturday, Sept. 22.
The health fair took place from 9 a.m. to noon, and offered screenings for blood pressure, body mass index, bone density, glucose, pulse oximetry, sleep disorders, as well as diabetic foot screenings. Several local health care providers held presentations on urology, diabetes education, family medicine, orthopedics and pediatrics.
“We’ve had about 100 people come through,” said Catherine Russell, community relations director at Cascade Valley Hospital. “A lot of people who came in did so because there is so much unemployment and a lot of people don’t have health insurance right now. This is an opportunity for them to come in and get checked out and meet face-to-face with health care providers.”
One of the most popular of the free screenings was the glucose test.
“Diabetes is a big problem in our area, so it’s really important for people to come and get checked out,” said Russell.
Richard Jauch came from Camano Island to participate in the free health fair.
“I wanted to find out how my body is working and get a little bit more down to the nitty gritties,” he said. “I wanted to get a little better idea of how senior citizens operate.”
One of the tests in which he participated was the glucose screening.
“I wanted to learn more about diabetes care and prevention,” said Jauch. “My twin brother has diabetes, but I don’t have it. I learned how pre-diabetes stuff is a concern. I’ve already cut out the sugar and eat no sweets, so the presentation just reinforced it.”
Another diabetes related screening that had a lot of participants was the diabetic foot screening.
“It’s available so that they can check the bottom of their feet,” said Russell. “A lot of people with diabetes are overweight so they can’t check their feet. A lot of the time they will re-ulcerate and not know it.”
Some participants were surprised by what the health screenings showed about their bodies.
“For the last year I’ve been doing outdoor labor-intensive work, so I was surprised to find that my bone density was actually below normal,” said Annamaria Clark, who was advised to do more weight-bearing exercises to build up bone density. Clark’s family was among many locals who took advantage of the screenings due to being uninsured.
“I brought my parents because they don’t have health insurance, and my dad wanted to take advantage of it to get screened,” she said.
A pulse oximetry screening tests one’s pulse and the oxygen level in their blood, and was also popular.
“This tests the oxygen level in the blood, so people with asthma and COPD can check to make sure they are getting enough oxygen,” said Becca Cofer, medical assistant. “The fires in Eastern Washington have been causing some breathing problems, but it’s also the beginning of cold and flu season. We even had some people come in who had pneumonia.”
The beginning of the cold season made the Germ Busters station particularly appealing, especially to children. The Cascade Valley Germ Busters use a solution and black light to test the effectiveness of people’s hand-washing techniques. First participants spray on a black light solution, then wash and dry their hands. They then place their hands under a black light to see if there is any residual solution.
“We take the Germ Busters around to schools and sporting events,” said Russell. “It’s really a hands-on way for kids to learn the right way to wash their hands, because it’s key to preventing disease.”
Each health fair attendee received a Passport to Health card, which had places for test results to be written to document their current state of well-being.
“We are hoping that by coming in and seeing the facility when they’re not sick, it will urge people to contact us when they need a provider in the future,” said Russell.
For more information contact the Cascade Skagit Health Alliance at 360-618-5000 or visit www.cascadeskagithealth.org.