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Abingdon health fair providing free health screenings and information - HeraldCourier.com: News

Abingdon health fair providing free health screenings and information

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Posted: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 10:32 am

Upcoming community events

Agriculture panel: 6 p.m. April 19 at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, a panel of local experts will discuss issues in agriculture, including the local foods movement.

Earth Day festivities: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. April 23 at the Fields-Penn House, the town of Abingdon will host its Earth Day events, including informational booths and activities for children.


“Would you like to learn to swing dance?” Ashby Dickerson asked a fellow presenter as the health fair was winding down.

Deanna Crutchfield, a licensed practical nurse at the Wellmont CVA Heart Institute, got up and gave it a try, following his lead and twirling at the edge of the ballroom in the Abingdon Senior Center.

“Dancing is exercise,” said Dickerson, who was signing people up for the free ballroom dancing classes he holds around the community. “I try to get 10,000 steps a day. Dancing is a very good way to get those, but it also is a lot more fun than just walking or other exercise, and it’s social.”

With Becky Bentley, a registered nurse, Crutchfield was there to talk about heart health, among several health and fitness presenters whose tables lined the ballroom following the weekly senior breakfast Tuesday, providing free health screenings and information.

It was the second year for the health fair, the first of three community events organized this month with the help of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

Cindy Jackson, a member of the chamber leadership team doing the health fair project, said it provided screenings for vision, hearing, glucose, oxygen levels and bone density, among other things.

“It drew a crowd that was able to get some testing done at free cost,” Jackson said, explaining that some of the tests offered for free are costly in another setting. For example, a bone density screening could run $300 at a medical office.

Dexter Peltzer, the senior center executive director, said the event will be back again next year, to provide access to preventive care screenings and information in a comfortable environment, without the intimidating obstacles of cost, paperwork and medical offices.

“I know a lot of them [the hundreds who attended the health fair] wouldn’t go to a doctor’s office, because they couldn’t afford it,” Peltzer said.

“They’ll come to a place where they feel comfortable. It’s really a significant deal, to take away their fear.”

Peltzer said the preventive nature of the health fair could also help people save money in the long run, because they can catch a health condition early through a screening rather than wait for serious – and expensive – symptoms to arise.

Melissa Mullins, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Johnston Memorial Hospital diabetes care center, said she and her partner screened 71 people for high glucose levels. Of those, five had a risk of diabetes and didn’t know it; 15 more had diabetes that they weren’t managing effectively.

“You can have diabetes for 5-10 years before you know it,” Mullins said. “If you have diabetes you can have lots of complications from it: heart disease, kidney disease, neuropathy, eye disorders, so you want to make sure you’re screened.”

Bentley said diet control is an important part of health because it impacts a lot of other health issues. But, she said, “Some of it’s just hereditary; you have to monitor it.”

Crutchfield listed three things she said people should remember for good health: “Eat right, stay active and have routine screenings.”


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