Health Fair succeeded despite COVID-19 pandemic

Some virtual events continue this week

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, but as the 37th annual Rotary Health Fair wraps up, a few numbers paint a picture of a successful event that happened in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and without our fearless former leader Gary Thomas, thanks to a whole lot of people. Take a look:

Number of blood draws: 969

Number of total lab tests: 2,314

Number of donors during blood drive: 27, potentially saving the lives of 81 Alaskans

Number of flu shots administered: 114

Number of health fair days: 24

Number of rotary volunteers: 22

Rotary volunteer hours during 18 days of blood draws, plus flu shot clinic: 201

Number of South Peninsula Hospital lab employees: 16

SPH phlebotomist hours: 63

SPH tech hours to run lab tests: 72

SPH lab director’s hours: 42

Fair coordinator’s hours: 105

Number of SPH departments involved: 11 (Laboratory, Registration, Medical Records, Support Services, IT, Dietary, Environmental Services, Marketing, Health & Wellness, Administration, Specialty Clinic)

Number of people on Health Fair Committee: Five (Rotarian Van Hawkins, coordinator; Rotarian Beth Trowbridge; Rotarian and SPH Public Relations and Marketing Director Derotha Ferraro; SPH Lab Director Laura Miller and Nancy Deaver, SPH patient access supervisor. By the way, the committee started meeting back in July to create new ways of doing things.

Number of hours devoted to developing a way for people to register and pay online: Countless.

And that doesn’t include the number of sleepless nights some spent wondering if the re-imagined health fair would work and if anyone would come. Or the hours spent fixing all kinds of behind-the-scenes details.

Early on there was some skepticism that the health fair could happen, given the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Rotarians will remember Past President Bernie Griffard’s admonishment that went something like this: If ever there was a year where the community needs the health fair, this is it. The health fair must go on.

And it did.

But it couldn’t have happened without community support. Thank you to everyone who was willing to give a new way of doing things a try. We’re grateful that you have come to know, trust and rely on this community tradition that’s possible because of you, a unique partnership between the Rotary Club of Homer-Kachemak Bay and South Peninsula Hospital, and the support of a variety of community partners.

Fair coordinator Van Hawkins admitted breaking new ground was stressful and took a lot of effort and mental energy, but it came with a reward: “We made something that works.”

“I’m very proud of the work of Rotary and South Peninsula Hospital to make this happen in the midst of this pandemic,” he said. “I’m proud of their ability to adapt and get this done, potentially pioneering new avenues to delivering services to people. We’re certainly going to take some of the lessons learned here as we move forward.”

As we wrap things up for another year, a few more numbers come to mind:

• Two more evenings to watch the Facebook Live presentations on various health-related topics. Go to the Rotary Health Fair’s Facebook page at Presentations start at 6 p.m. tonight and Friday. If you miss the live presentations, you can watch later at your convenience. Lots of great information is being presented. We hope you check it out.

• Your numbers. Dr. Ross Tanner, founder of the Diabetes and Lipid Clinic of Alaska, will help health fair participants understand what their lab results mean. His online presentation will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday. Again, go to the Rotary Health Fair’s Facebook page to view it.

• One beloved rotarian missing. It was heartwarming to hear how many people mentioned Gary Thomas when they came for their blood draw. “Oh, I miss Gary” was the common sentiment. Gary, who died in a sudden and unforeseeable accident Jan. 14, 2020, was a key figure in making the health fair happen each year. We all missed his presence this year, but we also know he would be proud of the way his Rotary club and community carried on.

It would be impossible to number the thanks needed to go around to everyone who made the 37th annual Rotary Health Fair a success. To those who plowed ahead looking for solutions when lots of people would have just said “not this year,” please know how inspiring and appreciated you are. Let the planning for the 38th annual Rotary Health Fair begin.

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.