Health fair aims to catch problems early

PARKERSBURG – Free health screenings and referrals for follow-up were part of the first health fair offered to the public at the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia in Parkersburg on Saturday.

“The idea behind this was that I work with homeless and transitioning youth and very few of them have health care,” said Lisa Doyle-Parsons, with the CHS. “When I was approached by a volunteer that had the skills to do a health fair, we decided that because of the neighborhood and how economically disadvantaged it is, we opened it to the community.”

Doyle-Parsons said the fair on Saturday was put on by volunteers from the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department, St. Joseph’s Ambulance Service and volunteers from the West Virginia University at Parkersburg nursing program.

One of its goals was to act as a preventive measure for those who are uninsured. Doyle-Parsons said they had 30 people come during the first few hours of Saturday’s fair and were expecting 100 by the end of the day.

Screenings at the fair included blood pressure checks and all other vital signs, childhood diabetes screening, weight and body mass index and referral information to the Good Samaritan Center, Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department and the Jefferson Wellness Center.

“They are places where those who don’t have insurance or low income can go to get free or low cost health care if they need to follow up,” she said. “We can refer to Birth to Three programs for young mothers and living skills classes, Westbrook and peer support and other agencies.”

Doyle-Parsons said organizers are planning for another fair next year and want to add more screenings to the program.

Devena Moore, of the MOVHD, said the weight and body mass results surprised some.

“We’ve had some younger who were in a healthier range than they thought they were and had some older ones who were not as out of balance as they thought they were,” she said. “We’ve had some that weren’t as bad as they thought but need a little improvement.”

Moore said the health department is offering free classes on the best ways to make lifestyle modifications, adding the weight and body mass tests are available at no cost from the department.

Ashley Estep said she came to the clinic because she wanted to see how healthy she was.

“I was curious about my health,” she said. “It’s pretty good, I feel good about knowing now.”