Aroostook County – Staff from The Aroostook Medical Center are planning their annual free health fair for community members on Saturday, October 15. The event, featuring a wide offering of screenings and information to help people stay healthy and well, takes place at Northern Maine Community College gymnasium from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
“We look forward to this every year,” says Glenda Dwyer, interim TAMC president. “Not only are we proud to be able to showcase the many services we offer the community, but, more importantly, we can provide easy access to a wide range of valuable information to community members, free screenings that will help them be more aware of their own health, and answer questions one-on-one regarding health concerns.”
Free adult flu shots will once again be offered at the Health Fair, and as an added benefit, TAMC is also offering free high dose flu shots for adults age 65 or older.
“Older adults are at greater risk of severe illness due to influenza, as human immune defenses become weaker with age,” explains Linda Foley, TAMC’s new manager of infection prevention and policy. “Ageing also decreases the body’s ability to have a good response after getting a flu shot. A higher dose of antigen in the vaccine gives older people a better immune response, and therefore, better protection against the flu.”
The popular free cholesterol screening will also be offered again this year courtesy of the staff from TAMC’s lab. In addition, a number of other TAMC practices will be offering free screenings and assessments at their booths. Among them: blood pressure, BMI/weight, pulse oximetry, visual acuity, diabetes, stroke risk assessment, hearing assessment, pulmonary screening and more.
Children are encouraged to bring in a teddy bear or favorite doll to the Teddy Bear Clinic being held at the Aroostook Pediatrics booth.
“This is a fun way for us to help get the kids familiar with the idea of being treated, and hopefully make them a little less fearful of a trip to the doctor’s office,” said Jennifer Robichaud, RN, clinical coordinator at Aroostook Pediatrics.
Another family-friendly activity will be a sensory-friendly reading room being hosted by United Way of Aroostook. Located right across the hall from the Health Fair, this will be a quiet space for children and others who may need it. United Way staff and volunteers will be on hand to read stories and to sign up eligible children for Dolly’s Imagination Library, a program that provides a free book each month to children from birth through age five. The library program is sponsored through United Way and supported by all four County hospitals.
In addition to the nearly 30 booths from TAMC and the United Way Reading Room, there will be booths from NMCC senior nursing students as well as a number of community organizations, including ACAP, AMHC, Aroostook Area Agency on Aging, C.A.N.C.E.R., Eastern Maine Homecare/VNA, Hope & Justice, Northern Prosthetics & Orthotics, and St. Apollonia Dental Clinic.
Nursing students from the college have played a key role in the health fair for a number of years, using the venue to provide a community education component of their program. This year, 29 students will be staffing 10 booths on a wide variety of topics, ranging from mercury in the local fish population to decreasing fall risk and the effects of sugar on oral health.
“We are grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of TAMC’s Health Fair,” said Mary Cornelio, NMCC department chair of nursing and allied health. “Having our students taking part in community health teaching is a valuable experience. Not only is it a part of the required curriculum for their degree, but it will be a big part of their role as nurses. Being able to educate their patients, family members and the community is an important part of nursing.”
TAMC is happy to offer a venue to allow these NMCC students and community organizations a free opportunity to educate the public on matters that can impact the health and wellbeing of themselves or family and friends, according to Dwyer.
“We are all working to benefit the community. It is fitting that we can come together in one location for the convenience of those we are working to serve,” says Dwyer.
People are encouraged to stop by the TAMC Health Fair anytime between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 15, in the NMCC gym.