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Downtown Hagerstown health center's fair offers screenings

August 09, 2008|By MARIE GILBERT

Where were the warning signs?

Jeff Volansky has asked himself that question every day since his heart attack two years ago.

There was some dizziness, but nothing that set off alarms. No numbness, no slurred speech.

It came suddenly and left Volansky a changed man.

"I've learned to take better care of myself," the Hagerstown resident said. "That was a promise I made to my family - and to myself."

Saturday morning, Volansky, 63, stayed true to his word by having his blood pressure and cholesterol checked.

And he didn't even need an appointment.

The screenings - which ranged from diabetes to osteoporosis - were part of a health fair hosted by the Walnut Street Community Health Center in downtown Hagerstown.

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In addition to free screenings, the event included information booths with representatives from area health and community organizations, giveaways, refreshments and a variety of children's activities, including a fire truck tour, balloons and face painting.

According to Kimberly Murdaugh, the center's executive director, the fair has been held for the past five years and coincides annually with National Community Health Fair Center Week.

"It's an opportunity to provide a service to the community," Murdaugh said. "It's also a way to introduce ourselves to people who many not be familiar with who we are and what we do."

Murdaugh said the center is marking its 5th anniversary this year and continues to be committed to making health care accessible to all area residents.

The center offers a variety of medical and dental services and recently added mental health services.

Individuals with and without health insurance are accepted, Murdaugh said.

Organizers expected Saturday's health fair to attract about 450 people. But a half hour before the center opened its doors at 9 a.m., a large crowd had already gathered in the parking lot.

"This fair just keeps getting bigger and bigger," Murdaugh said. "I've had some people already asking me when next year's event will be held. It's become very popular. I think people like the relaxed atmosphere. You can pretty much just walk in and have a screening done. If you had to make an appointment, many people wouldn't follow through."

Checking out the many information booths set up at the center were Alpha Kunkleman and Evelyn Trumpower, residents of nearby Walnut Towers.

"We saw a notice about the event on the bulletin board and thought this would be a convenient opportunity to get some good health information," Kunkleman said.

Both women said this was the first year they had attended the fair but they would definitely return next year.

"The older you get, the more aware you are of taking care of your health," Trumpower said.

George Gorney of Hagerstown said the fair was a great way to receive important health information.

"I wait each year for this event," he said. "I have limited health insurance, so this really helps."

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