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9Health Fair this Saturday

The month of April will see 9Health Fair events throughout the state of Colorado. Here in Pagosa the event will happen this Saturday, April 3, at the high school from 7 a.m. to noon.

Whatever else you are doing, put it aside and make your health a priority. Since 1980 more than a million and a half people have taken advantage of 9Health Fair to protect their health. In our community over 200 volunteers, both medical and non-medical, run this event for the benefit of the community.

With regard to medical volunteers, LaQuita Johnson, site coordinator, reports that in the past week the volunteer count has increased by two. However, to keep the lines moving in Blood Pressure Screening and Blood Chemistry Analysis, she needs another two volunteers. The 9Health Fair needs the expertise of individuals trained to take blood pressure or draw blood. This is a fine way to be of service to the community while meeting new people at the same time. Call LaQuita at 264-0661.

Effective traffic control is key to a successful operation. Approximately 700 fairgoers must be moved quickly and smoothly through the different stations. This is the job of the folks in orange vests who have a big responsibility and with it goes the authority to give people directions. Should you be on the receiving end, please follow instructions.

Rules that will be enforced: 1) You must be 18 years or older to participate; 2) No food or drinks (except water in a clear nonbreakable covered container) may be brought in; 3) The order of entry into the blood draw area is by the number found on your registration and these numbers will be posted where you can see them. You will also see some folks with ribbons pinned to their shirts; these too are in positions to assist. Look to any of these folks if you have questions or special needs.

This year the Health Fair will again offer a snack bar with a selection of nutritious snacks for a quick bite to eat for those who have been fasting. This means you do not need to rush home after having your blood drawn but can take advantage of all the other screenings and information available to you.

The Lions Club will collect used eyeglasses for distribution to those in need. So bring any that you might have along with you.

If you can arrive mid-morning you will avoid the early line. Visit our many different medical, interactive and learning centers for different types of health screening or health education — all available at no cost to you. Also available at low-cost are the following important screenings: Blood Chemistry Analysis ($30), Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) testing for men ($25), the Blood Count Test ($15) and the Colon Cancer Kit ($20).

The Blood Chemistry Analysis is one measure of your overall health, though by itself offers neither diagnoses of nor treatment for any specific disease. The analysis covers heart, thyroid, muscle and bone, pancreas, liver and kidney, blood, electrolytes and for men, prostate, if they pay for the PSA test. PSA testing measures a protein produced by the male prostate gland; an elevated value is not always an indicator of prostate cancer but should always undergo further evaluation. Anyone with a critical or alert health result will receive a phone call within 72 hours of their 9Health Fair visit instructing them to seek immediate medical attention.

Here are some special instructions for taking the Blood Chemistry Analysis:

• You must fast for 12 hours with these exceptions: Drinking water is highly encouraged and tea or coffee is permissible if served without sweetener or cream. Being well hydrated, helps the blood draw go smoothly.

• Those on medication should take their scheduled medicines as usual. Diabetics should not fast.

• If you enjoy late snacks, eat your last meal or snack a little later than usual and arrive later in the morning.

• If you are planning on having blood work, please wear loose clothing, short sleeved shirts, or shirts/blouses with loose fitting sleeves.

Screenings are not a substitute for a physical examination and no diagnosis will be provided. A good idea is to send a copy of your results to your primary care physician to keep your doctor informed about your health status.

The following screenings are available free of charge:

Finger Stick Blood Glucose screening: This test is designed for the person who is high risk for diabetes but has not yet been diagnosed. The screening is available to the applicants who qualify via a few screening questions. It involves using a lancet to prick the side of a finger to obtain a drop of blood, which is put on a reagent strip designed to give an accurate blood sugar measurement. You must be FASTING for 12 hours for the results to be accurate. If you know that you are high risk for diabetes, be sure to take advantage of this screening.

Blood pressure: High blood pressure is called the “silent killer,” for it has no symptoms until serious medical problems arise, such as a stroke, heart attack, or blindness. If you have not had yours measured lately, do so at the Health Fair, even if you do not plan to have your blood drawn.

Breast screening: Women of all ages should visit this station to be screened and to learn proper to self-examination techniques.

Vision acuity screening: Near and far distance vision is evaluated to determine if your corrective lenses (contacts or glasses) are adequate.

Height and weight: Are you within the norm for your sex and build? Visit this station and see if or where you need to improve.

Oral screening: Have a professional examine your mouth and provide you with information on oral health. This is a must.

Osteoporosis screening: Questionnaires will be available to help determine your risk for developing osteoporosis. Let’s stop a problem before it gets worse. A Bone Density Machine will also be available for those who are at high risk.

Body fat skinfold measurement: Should you be building body muscle? Assess body composition by determining the percentage of body fat.

Stress management screening: Find tips here for reducing or controlling stress.

Nutrition screening: Find a short nutritional questionnaire to learn if your health may be at risk from an unhealthy diet and review it with a dietician.

The following Interactive Education Centers (IECs) are also available at no charge. Sometimes all we need is a little information to help us establish a healthy life style.

Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+ ): Be sure to stop here if you need information or assistance regarding Colorado’s local health insurance for children and pregnant women. This is a vital and underutilized service.

American Cancer Society: Be sure to pick up the free literature that may help save your life. Forms will be available for those needing monetary assistance to obtain a mammogram and other assistance.

Veterans Services: Special information for special people.

How to read lab screening results: A volunteer will step you through the process.

Eye health education: an optometrist will educate on eye health and provide information on diseases of the eye such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic eye diseases.

Sisson Library: A valuable community resource; learn what is available to you.

A number of additional IECs will be available for your information. They include: The American Red Cross, San Juan Health Department, Organ Donor Awareness, First Place 4 Health and the Colorado State Police.

If you are unable to attend the Health Fair in Pagosa Springs, you can find other site locations and times by contacting 9Health Fair at (800) 332-3078 or at their Web site, The two fairs closest to us are located in Bayfield at the Bayfield Elementary School (511 Mustang Lane) and Durango at the Escalante Middle School (141 Baker Lane) both on April 17th.

Once again, LaQuita Johnson would be very pleased to hear from you should you want to volunteer to help. The need for volunteers with medical backgrounds is particularly urgent. Call her at 264-0661.