If you haven’t been to them you may have seen them going on. Schools, hospital foyers, churches, and other public venues have been popular locations for public health fairs for years. Local health practitioners, providers and health support services have tables to share their services, and often there are specialized services for physical exams and blood draws.
Betty R. of Alaska Health Fair, Inc shared with TNL that they do public and private health fairs, where they do screenings “wherever we are invited.”
Why should anyone go? Betty said, “People come to health fairs because they get tests done that cost more through their doctors.” Among screenings that are available, they have cancer, hearing, vision and glaucoma screenings. Betty said they are all different. They cannot replace a doctor, but they can help in recognizing problems.
Betty said,“Doctors often send their underinsured patients to us for blood work. A blood chemistry screen of 27 panels that costs $900 only costs $45” through Alaska Health Fairs, Inc., and the information gets mailed to the patient, not a doctor where they need to make an appointment to review their results.
In addition to the 27 blood panel screen, for extra fees there are men’s and women’s “wellness packages”, and an ala carte menu of other blood tests, such as ferritin (iron), thyroid, vitamin D, and prostate screens, with prices listed on their website. They do not often do testing through their offices as they are small, so patients call and make an appointment for the next public fair.
Beyond what Alaska Health Fair, Inc does for patients, at any health fair there is a different selection of presenters. They do not pay for their tables or booths — they are not selling anything — only making patients aware of their services that are health related.
TNL went to the health fair at the Anchorage Rasmussen Museum and met presenters from the National Institute on Mental Health and picked up folders on “navigating a mental health crises” and “starting a conversation about mental health”. The information was free and the presenter was happy to share what NAMI does.
Fairgoers could browse tables decorated as if for little parties, with little swag bags that had room for candies, stickers, pamphlets, and coloring books. Attendees were having active discussions with two hospice groups, a masseuse, a yoga teacher, United Way, and two groups who work with brain injuries. Many fairs have more tables, but this one filled up the space allocated. There was a fast moving line of people there to get blood draws, and the mood was upbeat.
Betty pressed upon TNL the need for volunteers. “We have medical and nonmedical,” she said. Health-care providers can of course be there, but the volunteer positions are as important. There is putting up and taking down, but there are also much needed positions to be filled in healthy lifestyle education, various screenings, and data collection, she said.
If you have questions about dates, want to attend a health fair or want to volunteer, go to their website: https://alaskahealthfair.org/