Community Health Fair aims to help put prevention into practice

Robin Reid

To teach people to practice prevention to prolong life, the 17th annual Community Health Fair will take place Friday, March 3, in D.L. Ligon Coliseum from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Students from all departments in the Robert D. and Carol Gunn College of Health Sciences and Human Services college will participate, offering more than 60 projects to help people practice early prevention with their health. Students in the health sciences program spend about half a semester planning for this event.

“It’s a student project,” Betty Bowles, associate professor of nursing, said. “My nurses have teams and usually it’s been the nursing department that’s led the charge, but this year every department within the health sciences is participating.”

Although the health fair is offered as a gift to the community, there will also be ways for attendees to give back by donating blood, registering to be an organ donor, contributing a nonperishable food item to the Wichita Falls Area Food Bank and recycling outdated prescription glasses.

“There are two issues. One is that we hear so much about the Affordable Care Act and the issue is affordable care begins with prevention,” Bowles said. “If you change your behaviors, you can prevent disease before it happens, that way healthcare becomes affordable.”

Prevention also plays a part in prolonging length of life as well as the the quality of life by focusing on wellness.

“You hear about life expectancy and that can be divided into healthy years and unhealthy years at the end of life,” Bowles said. “Behavior change and prevention lengthens your well years, whereas medical care lengthens your ill years.”

Topics to be covered:

  • Screening services offered will be for blood pressure, blood glucose, pulmonary function, vision, HIV/AIDS, STDs, depression, height, weight and body mass index.
  • Disease prevention activities will relate to alcoholism, allergies, anxiety, breast cancer, depression, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, obesity and stress.
  • Health promotion activities will include dental hygiene, nutrition, contraception, sleep, smoking cessation and recycling.
  • Safety topics will include cycling, firearms, Heimlich maneuver, self-defense, traffic and texting while driving.

Health sciences students are able to gain some experience before beginning their careers in healthcare, as well as earn a grade for their participation in the Community Health Fair.

“It’s both a didactic grade and a clinical grade, but it’s so good for the students because they get practice in patient teaching and they get to learn patient communication,” Bowles said. “It’s just a great way to interact with patients of all ages.”