Stamford Unites To Produce Quality, But Low-Cost, Health Fair


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Last year an estimated 1500 people attended the Stamford Health Fair.
Photo courtesy of:
Bill Sarno

A small army of volunteers, notably 100 healthcare professionals, are helping to make the 2014 Stamford Hispanic Health Fair and East Side Food Festival  bigger and better than ever, which is good news to the people it is primarily designed to help – the area’s Latino families.
What might surprise many however, in this high cost health care world, is that the work of the volunteers, along with numerous contributions from health organizations and the  community, allows the event, which serves an estimated 1,500 people, to be staged on a budget of only $3,000.
An amazing budget considering that each attendee will receive more than a $1000 in free testing. The Kidney Foundation has volunteered to provide tests that alone are worth $1,200, said Philip Berns, co-vice-chairman of the Hispanic Advisory Council of Greater Stamford., an alliance of local nonprofit agencies, businesses, individuals and health care providers serving the Latino community, which annually organizes this event.
Although the fair, which is now in its 21st year, is specifically intended to help the area’s Spanish-speaking families, the services are available to people from all ethnic groups. “Everybody  is invited,” Berns said.
The diversity of those attendees, which in the past has also served Haitians and French-speaking Africans and Poles, has prompted the organizers to look for one more set of volunteers with special skills. More interpreters are needed, especially those who know Spanish and French, along with Haitian Creole, Gujrati and Hindi.
The fair will run  October 18th from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the DOMUS, a community center and alternative high school located on Lockwood Avenue in Stamford’s ethnically diverse east side.  The event was previously housed at the Yerwood Center in the west end of the city.
Topping the lineup of  volunteers are staff from Stamford Hospital, the local health department and Optimus Healthcare’s nonprofit community centers, who will  provide free health, dental and blood screenings, as well as other medical services and information in English and Spanish.
Also on board this year for the first time is the East Side Partnership, a community redevelopment and neighborhood improvement group, which is bringing its annual food festival to the health fair. Local restaurants will serve free and low cost foods, and there will be family entertainment.
Financial support has been provided by Pepperidge Farm, Global Health Systems Consultants, Fairfield County Bank, Optimus Healthcare, Patriot National Bank and Norwalk Ten Co.                                                                 Each  has  donated $500.
With all the changes, the fair’s focus remains on improving the lives of those in the Hispanic community who may be unfamiliar with local medical services or lack health insurance. The health issues of many in the Latino community are similar to those of other low income groups, Berns said, adding that blood and cholesterol screening are important issues.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 26 percent of Hispanic Americans suffer from hypertension, which is a lower rate than non-Hispanic and black Americans, but the percentage of Hispanics aware of their high blood pressure and receiving treatment is less than for other groups.
In addition to providing blood pressure tests, the fair will offer non-fasting total cholesterol, non-fasting glucose, pulmonary function and facial skin tests, body fat analysis (digital), mobile mammography, hand hygiene, chiropractors (trigger-point massage), spinal screening, kidney screening and evaluation dental oral screening and, for children, fluoride application.
There will be an ambulance present, mostly for children to view, and “just in case.” Berns noted that almost every year the ambulance makes a hospital run, transporting someone  whose “blood pressure has gone through the roof.”
Anyone interested in volunteering on Oct. 18, may contact Berns at (203) 324-0058.
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