Tahlequah Daily Press

April 15, 2013

Back to health basics

Special Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Volunteers helped educate local residents Saturday morning about basic health concerns during the first Community Health Fair, held at Norris Park.

The event allowed area residents to talk to a medical doctor in a relaxed but informative setting – and that was the goal, according to Joseph Schnetzer, community campus coordinator for Northeast Area Health Education Center.

University health care students volunteered to test height, weight, body mass index, body fat, blood pressure, pulse, glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides and temperature, which they documented on forms.

“When patients finish with all the stations and have their forms filled out, they go see Dr. Douglas Nolan, from Cherokee Nation Hastings Hospital, who talks to them about their information and answers questions,” said Schnetzer.

Nolan said the health fair was a good idea because it offered an opportunity for people to get checked out in a non-threatening atmosphere. He said getting the basics checked out is important to everyone’s health.

“You have to be aware before you can do anything about it,” Nolan said. “People can get a lot of things checked early, and if something is found, they can then do something about it.”

According to Schnetzer, NEAHEC’s mission is to make Tahlequah the clinical rotation of choice for health care students. The idea came about when Schnetzer visited NSU’s Pre-Professional Health Club to support the undergraduates.

“At first, we were going to hold the fair at NSU, but then we wondered how to get a lot of people involved,” Schnetzer said. “That’s when we combined forces with the Tahlequah Farmers’ Market. Hundreds of people visit the market Saturday mornings.”

Participants included undergraduate students from NSU, as well as medical students, pharmacy interns, physician’s assistant interns and army medic trainees.

Jake Whitener, a second-year Oklahoma State University medical student from Hulbert, measured participants’ height and weight.

Whitener said the event gives the health care students a chance to talk about height and weight and glucose, and is a great way to inform the fair’s patients.

“We tell them what normal is and help them become aware of what they need to do,” said Whitener.

NSU student Andrea Jackson volunteered to bring health information to the community and to educate residents.

“I want people to be as healthy as possible,” said Jackson.

Other organizations also participated in the health fair, showing community members what’s offered on the local health care scene.

Katey Gifford, who works for Cardiovascular Surgical Specialists Corp., manned a booth at the event.

“This gives [participants] a chance to know their basic health facts,” she said. “Something like this, held on the weekend, is great for those working during the week.”

People of all ages attended the fair, walking from table to table, filling out their health cards.

Sherri Mouse brought her children to the fair so she and her family could get a general idea of their health.

“It’s a pretty neat idea to have a health fair at the park, because sometimes people can’t afford to get things checked out,” said Mouse.

Although this is the first time a free health fair has been held outdoors at Norris Park, Craig Clifford, sponsor of the NSU Pre-Professional Health Club, thinks it won’t be the last.


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