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Walnut Street center health fair doles out hearty dose of info

August 13, 2006|by ALICIA NOTARIANNI

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, the adage goes.

But attendance at a health fair Saturday in Hagerstown suggested people prefer a much more active approach to maintaining their health and well-being.

More than 400 people went to the Walnut Street Community Health Center between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. for free health screenings and information on community resources.

The Community Health Center is a federally qualified health center that provides ongoing health care for people who are uninsured or underinsured, as well as people who are fully insured.

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Barbara Rundle, health services coordinator at the center, said the federal government mandates the nonprofit organization provide free patient education. The center hosted the fair, in part, to meet that obligation.

"We want to put out information so people can find out what area agencies can provide for them, and offer screenings so people can identify if they have any illness or disease and follow up with a doctor," Rundle said.

Rundle said this was the third year the center hosted the fair. Twenty-one agencies from the Washington County area participated in the event.

Judy Marlowe, 64, of Hagerstown, attended the health fair last year and returned this year. She received blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and skin screenings, and said all of the results were normal.

"This is a great event if you want anything to do with staying healthy," Marlowe said. "It makes people aware of ways to help themselves. And if they find anything is wrong, they can go to the doctor and pursue it."

Bill and Alma Grams, 80 and 75, of Hagerstown, also are repeat attendees of the health fair. Alma Grams said the couple has some significant health-care needs. They decided to go to the event last year in between visits to their regular doctor.

"I was pleased that they sent my screenings to my family doctor," Alma Grams said. "And the people here offer an abundance of information, guidance and support for any medical questions we have."

Annette Eddy, 44, of Hagerstown, went to the health fair with her husband and daughter, as well as a neighbor, and said there were resources relevant to each of them.

Eddy and her husband, Eugene Eddy, 43, said they found valuable information regarding fire safety; child development and behavior; and access to medical care.

"I really learned a lot today," Annette Eddy said.

Kaitlin Eddy, 4, got fingerprinted by the Hagerstown Police Department, and climbed aboard a firetruck.

The Eddys' neighbor, Vivian Ridenour, 52, of Hagerstown, said she found the Hospice vendor to be particularly helpful. Ridenour said her grandson, Daniel, 6, who had multiple sclerosis, passed away in July.

"I found a lot of literature on grieving and losing loved ones," Ridenour said. "The information is so helpful. I didn't know the answers."

Ridenour said she even found coloring books on grieving and loss that she planned to share with Daniel's siblings.

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