Hundreds flock to Washington County Health Department health expo

Offerings expanded for children and for preventive health

April 09, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER |
  • Hundreds of people attended the third Annual National Public Health Awareness Expo at the Washington County Health Department in Hagerstown on Saturday.
By Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

For a third year, National Public Health Week drew hundreds Saturday to the Washington County Health Department on Pennsylvania Avenue for the annual health expo.

Hosted in connection with the Washington County Cancer Coalition, the expo brought information, screenings and awareness to people, said Holly Luther, community health educator with the health department.

This year, National Public Health Week centered on the theme "Safety is no accident: Live injury free," she said.

Drawing on comments from last year's attendees, Luther said the expo expanded its offerings for children and for preventive health, which fell in line with the 2011 theme.

Not everyone realizes the vast resources available in Washington County, she said.

"Someone who might not have gone to a doctor might come to a health fair, take a screening and say, 'Wait a minute, maybe I should get this looked at,'" said Cherie Clippinger, quality assurance manager of the Walnut Street Health Center.

With 42 vendors on hand Saturday, the expo put many of those resources under the same roof, including the Minority Outreach and Technical Assistance program of the Memorial Recreation Center in Hagerstown.

Established to help eliminate health disparities and educate the community on HIV and AIDS, director Marquita Davis said the program was funded through the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to address a growing problem in communities.

But getting their message across is not easy, program counselor Linda Gordon said.

"It's a very difficult message to get out there, but if you don't have it, chances are someone you know does," Davis said.

Many people are ignorant when it comes to health, which expos such as the one Saturday hope to mitigate, staff of the Walnut Street Community Health Center said.

For instance, some parents do not know that there are pediatric dentists or that the first time their child needs to see a dentist is when the child's first tooth arrives, said April Stanton, a certified dental assistant at the clinic.

Having information from a vast array of resources — from public safety organizations and Hospice to clinics and wellness programs — in one place gives people a chance to browse the services of their community without feeling pressured, Luther said.

Walter Suffecool and his wife, Gladys, of Williamsport, said they have gone to many health fairs and find the information at each to be uniquely helpful.

"They got a lot of things," Walter Suffecool said. "I'd recommend this one to anyone."

Joanne Hood of Hagerstown said she came to the expo with her husband, Edward, to see what was available and ended up getting a second opinion through the screenings.

The expo is held every year during National Public Health Week, Luther said.

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