Health Fair offers free screenings

August 14, 2005|By MARIE GILBERT

Tina Hutzell had been waiting for this day for a long time.

Walking through the doors of the Walnut Street Community Health Center in Hagerstown, she worked her way from room to room, having her blood pressure taken, her mouth examined and her finger poked for diabetes and cholesterol testing.

"I read about this in the paper and decided to do all the screenings," she said. "Now that it's over, I feel pretty healthy. And it was easy to do."

Hutzell, a resident of Hagerstown, was among the visitors to the second annual health fair sponsored by the center.

The event featured free health screenings, tours of the facility and information booths with representatives of area health and community organizations.


Kim Murdaugh, executive director for the health center, said the event was being held during National Community Health Center Week.

The purpose, she noted, was twofold.

"We want to reintroduce ourselves to the community," she said. "Many people are not familiar with who we are or what we do. But we also want to make sure that people with limited access to health care are aware of the preventative health-care screenings that are available "

Murdaugh said the center serves patients from across the Tri-State area and accepts individuals with and without health insurance.

Despite the sizzling temperatures, Murdaugh said a crowd had gathered in the parking lot 20 minutes before the event was scheduled to begin.

"In the first two hours, we've seen three times the number of people who showed up for the whole day last year," she said. "We've had a wonderful response."

Murdaugh said the event is a good opportunity for people to meet the medical staff in a more casual atmosphere.

"Sometimes, people who don't have a physician are intimidated by the whole appointment process," Murdaugh said. "With an event like this, visitors can meet the clinical staff and if they have questions, they can ask them in a more casual atmosphere. They have an opportunity to see that our staff is very approachable."

According to Barbara Rundle, health services coordinator for the health center, the staff began working on the health fair in June.

"We've worked really hard to make this a special event for the community," she said. "There really is something for everyone here."

The event also featured an officer from the Hagerstown Police Department, who was available to fingerprint children with children's identity kits; a firetruck from the Hagerstown Fire Department; and raffles of gift cards, certificates and merchandise from area businesses and restaurants.

Checking out the many information booths set up in the parking lot, Father George Limmer, pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church, thought the event was a good way for the community to see what the Walnut Street health center has to offer.

"There are so many services available here," he said. "Hopefully, people will become more familiar with the center."

Paul Mullenix of Hagerstown, who participated in the free health screenings, thought the event was a great opportunity to receive important health information.

"I'd do it again," he said. "I had been waiting to find something like this."

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