Good turnout for Ozarka Ash Flat's first health fair

Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Photo/Richard Irby Sherrill Watson of Cherokee Village gets a blood pressure check at a May 1 Health Fair at the Ozarka College Ash Flat campus. Ozarks LPN students assisted as residents from all over the area dropped in for free and low cost health checks, and information from a variety of community health agencies and private businesses.

Ozarka College Ash Flat held a health fair on Wednesday, May 1, thanks to 17 nursing students who probably had better things to do, since they have a lot of loose ends to tie up before they graduate in August.

"We have a lot of students here who do not have health insurance, so we began a program to offer them eye exams and medical and dental checks ups," LPN Instructor Cheryl Ekenes said. It went so well, school officials began discussing putting together a bigger event that would offer health checks to the entire community.

"Our nursing students have to do six hours of community service each semester, so we put them to work planning it," Ekenes explained.

Plan it they did. Soliciting donations, inviting health organizations and businesses to set up educational booths and working out logistics with the nursing building maintenance staff. The May 1 event also sought to expand the type of health services that are normally offered at community health fairs.

The White River Medical System offered free blood-pressure, glucose, body--mass and bone density checks for women. Tests to determine cholesterol levels and signs of diabetes were available for just $15, a fraction of the typical cost.

The Baxter Regional Medical Center Mobile Mammography Unit was on hand to provide screenings and breast--care information. Those without insurance or state benefits received free mammography screenings thanks to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

In a separate room, private companies like Eaglecrest Nursing and Rehabilitation, Horseshoe Health and Medicine and Tri-County Medical Supply provided information about services they offered, while organizations like the Sharp County Health Unit, the Cooperative Extension Service and Community Home Health provided information about ways to improve health and safety through better diets, smoking cessation, exercise and other positive lifestyle changes.

The nursing students even held raffles and bake sales and collected canned goods from health fair participants to raise money for local food banks.

Ozarka nursing students like Justin Jones performed most of the tests and examinations. Jones said he was thrilled to get the chance to collect blood samples and work the machine which did the cholesterol checks. "I have a job waiting for me at Fulton County Hospital when I get out in August," Jones said, "I want to get all of the clinical experience I can before I graduate."

Maxine Smith of Agnos, who rarely sees a doctor, gave the health fair high marks. "I try to hit them all (health fairs) because they are free. I like how many checks I can get done here," Smith said.

Next year's crop of LPN students can expect that one of their learning experiences will be putting on a health fair.

"We have had a lot of interest from the public, especially in the mammography unit. It looks like a good turnout for a first-time event. We hope to make it an annual event here at the Ash Flat campus," said Molly Carpenter, the Ash Flat site director.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: