Community health fairs are all about helping people. The Paul L. Foster School of Medicine SUNS (Students United Para Nuestra Salud) health fair held last Saturday, February 28 at the Texas Tech Physicians Northeast Family Medicine Center on Kenworthy provided a variety of screenings to participants and added yet another dimension to the event. It also helped dogs. For the second year in a row, the students invited staff from the El Paso Humane Society who brought along 12 dogs available for adoption—and 10 went home with new families in just three hours.
According to Anil Reddy, one of the medical students who helped plan the yearly event, the health fair was well attended with 70 vendors participating. A variety of informational materials and free health care services were provided to participants including blood pressure and glucose monitoring, dental screenings, BMI calculations, EKG tests, and glaucoma screenings. This year, 20 people attending the fair used the opportunity to support and donate blood to United Blood Services (UBS) which had their mobile blood unit at the fair. Students say this is the most that has ever been collected compared to previous fairs.
“Every year the services offered grows and the fun attractions offered is really entertaining,” said Charmaine Martin, M.D., associate professor in the Dept. of Family Medicine and one of the faculty volunteers at the health fair. “The medical students continually surpass themselves every year. The planning and organization that goes into such a huge event is incredible. Garrett Simmons, Paul L. Foster School of Medicine Class of 2013 attended this year and helped with the very first SUNS fair. He is currently a second year radiology resident in Houston and he was very impressed with the growth. It was great to have him and the current students together,” said Dr. Martin.
“This year was another exciting and successful year for the milestone Fifth Annual SUNS Health Fair and the El Paso community,” said medical student Monisha Parikh. “As the health fair grows each year, new services are added. Hearing, speech, and cognitive assessments, massages, and pharmacy consults were added this year. Books for Gems also generously donated 125 books to give away to promote literacy in the community,” she said.
The students awarded Dr. Martin a plaque to recognize “her dedication to the SUNS Health Fair and her selfless service to the El Paso community each year,” said Parikh. “A special thanks goes to our largest sponsor this year, Amerigroup. Without support from local businesses like Amerigroup our fair would not be possible each year,” she said.
Students gave away 75 pounds of fresh produce to promote healthy eating and participants were able to try out classes in Zumba, salsa, CrossFit and Parkour. A giant inflatable informational colon which traveled to El Paso from New Mexico, featured the different stages of colon cancer.
The Paul L. Foster SOM Texas Medical Association (TMA)/American Medical Association (AMA) Student Chapter helped fit 150 children’s-sized bike helmets to kids to raise awareness against head injury and promote physical activity in children. The TMA partnered with the Department of Public Health to provide free child and adult immunizations to attendees as part of the Texas Bee Wise – Immunize program. Funding for TMA’s Be Wise – Immunize was provided by the TMA Foundation thanks to H-E-B and TMF Health Quality Institute, and gifts from physicians and their families.