Saturday's health fair all about you

The 2016 Rotary Health Fair will provide the Homer-area community with an opportunity to consult with a new array of doctors, get a flu shot, do a variety of wellness checks and even enjoy a massage.

The fair, which has served Homer residents for 33 years, has many services for the community to take advantage of from 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at Homer High School.

A cooperative effort with South Peninsula Hospital and with the help of many organizations and businesses, the fair encompasses a variety of health-related topics — including physical fitness, dietary health, mental wellness, dentistry, massage and women’s health.

In partnership with Homer Medical Center, the health fair increased the number of free flu shots available from to 250. Last year, the fair had 150 to give away. Community members should not worry about the shots disappearing within the first couple hours of the fair, said Rotary Health Fair coordinator Sharon Minsch.

“We think we have a good number so that we’ll be doing them throughout the day,” Minsch said. “We’ve never run out of flu shots at the health fair before. They usually last the day. We think that with 250, we need to get the word out a little more.”

“Given the amount of people that come, the health fair committee feels like the flu shots are an important component to keeping everybody healthy,” she said.

Those on the fence about whether they should receive a flu shot can speak with one of the medical professionals present at the fair about whether it is the best choice for them, Minsch said.

“People die every year from the flu and if you get one you’re helping yourself and those around you,” Minsch said. “We want to make sure that everyone who wants one can have one.”

A variety of medical professionals will also be on hand to discuss potential health issues with fair attendees. Dr. Jess Weiss, a dermatologist who holds clinics in Homer on a regular basis, will perform free skin cancer screenings at his booth.

“If you’ve got something you can show him while he’s standing in the gym, he’ll look at it,” Minsch said.

Other doctors will be on hand to go over test results for those who take advantage of the low-cost blood tests. There will be medical professionals at the next table over to look over results with people, said South Peninsula Hospital Director of Public Relations and Marketing Derotha Ferraro.

“Everyone has different knowledge and skills and time to do something with that paper, so we felt it was important to provide the free assistance with interpreting results,” Ferraro said.

Diabetes specialist Dr. Ross Tanner will be on hand at the fair to speak with people who receive test results that point toward diabetes, Minsch said.

“As (the fair) grows, we have more medical professionals willing to spend time with us to help people to be well,” Minsch said.

Appointments for blood tests can be made at sphosp.org. Those who did not make an appointment to have their blood taken for testing prior to or at the fair can come as a walk-in after 9 a.m., Minsch said.

In addition to physicians, pharmacists Scotts Family Pharmacy and Ulmer’s Drug and Hardware will be present at the health fair. Scotts Family Pharmacy opened in Homer recently, so the fair will be an opportunity for the community to meet the member’s of Homer’s newest pharmacy and receive information about their various approaches to health care, Minsch said.

Ulmer’s will offer free counseling for people who have questions about their medications and how they might interact with each other. People looking to participate in the medication counseling should write down their medication names and dosage amounts to show the pharmacist, Minsch said. No one should bring prescription drugs to the fair.

The Homer Police Department will be present at the fair as well with their drug disposal box to show people what it looks like and provide information on how people can drop off drugs and old prescriptions at the police station instead of storing them at home or flushing them down the toilet, Minsch said. While the box is available for people to drop off drugs when it is at the police station, people should not bring drugs to the fair.

The fair provides free information with qualified professionals ready to answer questions, Ferraro said.

“It’s really a relaxed one-on-one environment to talk about a variety of issues relating to health. The fair gives a broad perspective to health. No matter what’s important to you, whether it’s your environment or your diet or wellness perspectives, no matter what your health priority is right now you’ll find a variety of resources for you,” Ferraro said. “This isn’t about a specific piece of health. It’s a pretty broad perspective of health. Anyone attending can find something of interest and meaningful to them.”

The health fair averages 1,000 people that take advantage of the blood testing each year, Minsch said. In 2015, 1,400 people were counted entering through the high school’s doors. The health fair provides access to health services to many who cannot afford it, in addition to providing updated information to the Homer-area community.

“In a town where many of us don’t have insurance or a lot of money, it’s an amazing service the hospital provides … We actually have a number of employers in Homer that pay for these tests for employees. It’s a really neat service,” Minsch said. “Every year we know we save lives. Every year we find someone that has blood pressure through the roof or trouble with their eyes that they don’t notice because it’s gradual. (Men have) discovered they have prostate cancer. Not everyone can afford to go to the doctor every year.”

Anna Frost can be reached at anna.frost@homernews.com.

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