The low-cost blood draws for the 37th annual Rotary Health Fair wrap up this week, but the health fair doesn’t end with those blood draws.
Remember that big one-day event at Homer High School with all the exhibitors? That event is happening virtually this year and goes live next week.
Sixteen exhibitors will present programs about their services via Facebook beginning at 6 p.m. Monday. Three to four exhibitors will be featured each evening, with the entire day’s program going until about 7:30 p.m. Programs can be accessed through the Rotary Health Fair’s Facebook page or via the website at www.rotaryhealthfair.org. If you can’t tune in at those times, the programs will be available to watch later on the health fair Facebook page and website.
In addition, Dr. Ross Tanner, founder of the Diabetes & Lipid Clinic of Alaska, will explain what those blood test results can tell you about your health. His presentation will be at 10 a.m. Saturday. Dr. Tanner is known statewide for his expertise in lipids and diabetes management and provides care for adult patients with diabetes, obesity, elevated blood pressure or cholesterol problems. He practices at the South Peninsula Hospital Specialty Clinic.
Other exhibitors will have information posted but won’t be giving live presentations. Take, for instance, NTC Community Clinic, which will provide information about its Medication Assisted Treatment, or MAT, for substance use disorders.
Kathleen Totemoff, MAT project director, said the goal is to educate the community about all the different services offered so individuals can choose the recovery program that best fits them.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, substance-use relapse rates are increasing across the state and nation.
“Whatever existing challenges people have had are now magnified,” she said. “People’s struggles haven’t stopped.”
Those struggles now may include the death of a loved one due to COVID, the loss of a job or business, the new work of homeschooling, transportation issues, financial worries — or a combination of those things.
Anxiety brought on by the pandemic also may cause people to turn to alcohol or drugs. She encourages those who are just sliding into unwanted behaviors to self-assess and take action since the earlier one seeks help, the better. The clinic follows CDC recommendations to be COVID safe and has expanded its telehealth options for both medical and behavioral health services, she says.
Just like the big one-day health fair event provided the community with a wide variety of health-related information, this year’s virtual offering will cover a gamut of topics — everything from assistive technology to brain health to continuous glucose monitoring and so much more.
Shawn Story of Alaska Adult Education, which is housed at Homer’s Kachemak Bay Campus, will share the message “a healthy brain leads to a healthy life.”
That adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” just isn’t true, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy, he said.
In his presentation, Story will talk about the neuroscience of learning and how learning new things keeps our brains healthier. He gives the example of how multi-lingual people are much less likely to get Alzheimer’s than those who speak just one language.
Among the classes offered through Alaska Adult Education are computer literacy, English as a second language, citizenship classes and language arts for those studying for their GED. Currently all classes are being offered via Zoom. In pre-COVID days, Story said interested adults were invited to “come on in” to learn more about the programs offered. Today, people are invited to give a call. Educators with the program can be reached by calling KBC’s main number, 235-7743.
Tori Gingras, outreach specialist for Assistive Technology of Alaska, will talk about how her agency connects people with services and solutions to help them gain more independence and improve their quality of life.
For example, the loss of vision should not mean a person can no longer cook if that’s what they want to do, she said. Assistive technology solutions that can help include cut-resistant gloves, high-contrast cutting boards, talking scales, digital magnifiers and devices to read recipes aloud.
For those with hearing loss who are finding it difficult to connect with family and friends during the pandemic and feeling depressed as a result, there are solutions, Gingras said.
“It’s not a one-size fits all,” Gingras said, as she ticks off possible remedies including adaptive phones, landline phones that caption conversations, I-pads so families can connect via Skype, and cellphone amplifiers. “It comes down to the individual and that person’s overall goals.”
While there are fewer exhibitors than have been available at health fairs past, those tuning in will be treated to more in-depth information, says Rotarian Van Hawkins, health fair coordinator. It also will be easier to focus on particular presenters, he says.
Here is the schedule for next week’s virtual health fair:
6 p.m.: Water’s Edge, where women and families can come before, during and after pregnancy for education and care. All services, including pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, nurse consultations, pregnancy education, parenting education resources and more, are free.
6:30 p.m.: Help Me Grow Alaska, an agency dedicated to promoting healthy child development statewide by providing support and information to individuals and organizations who care for and about children and young adults.
7 p.m.: Sprout Family Services, a private, nonprofit corporation with a core purpose of promoting the healthy development of children from birth to age 5. Sprout offers many resources for families, including virtual parenting classes, free developmental screenings, and virtual home visits through the Infant Learning Program.
6 p.m.: Paul Seaton, former chair of the Health and Social Services and former co-chair of Finance Committee in the Alaska House of Representatives. As a legislator, Seaton advocated for better health and to lower the incidence and severity of the disease burden on Alaskans by distributing published scientific studies comparing the effect of low vs. adequate vitamin D. He continues that work today.
6:30 p.m.: Whirling Rainbow Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote community health and wellness through the healing arts. The program will emphasize the power of essential oils and frequency healing.
7 p.m.: The Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, which is part of a national network of 29 reserves supported through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Alaska Center for Conservation Science at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Information to help the community make informed decisions about harvesting and consuming wild shellfish in Alaska will be featured in this program.
6 p.m.: R.E.C. Room, a safe place for teens to socialize with friends after school and participate in positive activities. Currently, programming is virtual or in person as appropriate due to COVID-19. The evening’s program will focus on resiliency.
6:30 p.m.: Alaska Adult Education, a grant-funded program under the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act that provides free GED, ESL, College and Career Readiness, and skills for employment classes. The program will focus on brain health.
7 p.m.: Assistive Technology of Alaska, the only private, nonprofit, statewide resource center that serves Alaskans of any age to help them make informed decisions about the assistive technology that best meets their needs at work, school, home or life in general.
6 p.m.: Haven House, which supports and empowers people impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault and promotes healthy families. This presentation will focus on the Green Dot program, which has been one of Haven House’s most successful strategies in violence prevention. Green Dot teaches people how to interrupt situations that are ripe for violence or bullying. It provides skill building and strategies to increase the likelihood that trained individuals will intervene to keep people safe.
6:30 p.m.: Ladies First, an organization that promotes breast and cervical cancer screening services and covers out-of-pocket costs associated with these screenings for Alaska women.
7 p.m.: Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic, which provides high-quality, low-cost, accessible reproductive and preventive health care for the southern Kenai Peninsula. The clinic offers a range of confidential clinical services for adults and teens of all genders, backgrounds and income levels. This program will focus on the importance of planning routine health care, even during a pandemic.
6 p.m.: Guardian Flight Alaska, the leading provider for air medical services in Alaska. It offers Alaska residents air medical transport membership, providing individuals and families financial peace of mind if they need to be air transported.
6:30 p.m.: Southern Region Emergency Medical Services Council, a nonprofit corporation established in 1975 to serve as a regional resource center for the emergency medical services system in southcentral and southwestern Alaska. It promotes excellence in patient care, quality management, injury prevention, and professionalism. The program will emphasize how learning CPR can save a life.
7 p.m.: Alaska Autism Resource Center, an agency that serves the needs of individuals with autism spectrum disorders, their families, caregivers, and service providers throughout Alaska. The center provides information, referral, training, and consultation via on-site and distance delivery. The center is a project of the Special Education Service Agency located in Anchorage.
7:30: South Peninsula Hospital Diabetes Education, a program offering self-management education and support to all community members and families dealing with all types of diabetes. This presentation will focus on continuous glucose monitoring, which allows for 24-hour tracking of glucose levels without the need to poke your finger. It’s especially good during these COVID times, since it allows the clinic to look at how things are going without anyone having to visit the clinic, says Peggy Ellen Kleinleder, a certified diabetes educator and diabetes health coordinator for South Peninsula Hospital.
10 a.m.: Dr. Ross Tanner, founder of the Diabetes & Lipid Clinic of Alaska. He will help listeners understand their lab results.
Lori Evans is the 2020-21 president of the Rotary Club of Homer-Kachemak Bay, which sponsors the health fair in partnership with South Peninsula Hospital.