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Over 2000 Visit Living Well Health Fair

Hospital news | Sunday, March 8, 2015

Contact: Thomas Hottman

By LEE JUILLERAT H&N Regional Editor

At first glance, John Harrison looks fit and healthy.

Before running a gauntlet of free health tests at Saturday's Living Well Community Health Fair, sponsored by the Sky Lakes Medical Center, at the Klamath County Fairgrounds, he thought he'd score well.

"I don't smoke or drink, but I don't exercise or eat well so it balances out," said the 55-year-old Harrison. Currently working as a care provider for special needs adults, he decided that "looking into my own health is probably a good thing."

Free screenings

He was among the 100-plus people who took advantage of a series of free screenings for blood glucose, total cholesterol, blood pressure, body mass index and lung functions at Saturday's clinic. After the screenings, Harrison sat down with Dr. David Dashoff, from the Sky Lakes Klamath Medical Clinic, to review his results and discuss ways to work on improving his overall health.

Harrison, who will soon start a new job working at the Klamath Ranger District office, a relatively short walk or bicycle ride from his Oregon Avenue home, began by having his weight and body mass recorded. "I'm here because of the variety of different booths," he said while waiting to his blood glucose and cholesterol tested. "I wanted to see what they have on display and I wanted to do the free health screenings. And I want to see what new products are out there."

There was a lot to see. A booth from the Klamath Trails Alliance offered information about local trails, including the expanding network at Moore Park. Dr. Carol Petherbridge, a naturopathic physician who previously worked in the Rogue Valley, was eager to discuss her newly opened practice. There were booths with information about skin care products and tai chi, and displays on a range of health-related topics.

Taking care

"The big point we want to emphasize is for people to take care of their health even when they're not in the doctor's office," said Dr. Joyce Hollander-Rodrigues, a family practice physician at Cascades East, of the health fair. "For me as a provider, seeing all the people from different organizations I work with is really fun.

Hollander-Rodrigues, a 15-year Klamath Basin physician, said she's encouraged by what she believes are positive lifestyle changes.

"I love seeing people in our community being proactive," she said, citing programs like Walk With A Doc offered Saturdays at Oregon Tech. "I'm really excited about all the people working to make our community healthier."

Harrison was feeling good after going over his preliminary blood glucose and cholesterol results with Norma Bono and Kim McArthur, students at Oregon Health & Science University's Klamath Falls campus who were among the many volunteers. Harrison visibly jumped when initially pricked for the small blood sample, but felt better when he learned his results were in normal ranges.

Next, he took three blood pressures using two different devices at a table hosted by Sky Lakes Home Health. The first reading was a very healthy 120 over 80, the second a surprising 133 over 90. "Don't talk this time," instructed Donna Proaddus, who did the testing. The third test fell between the first two.

Completing the circuit

After filling out a questionnaire about diabetes, Harrison sat down with Dashoff for a non-rushed review of his screening results, then completed the circuit by taking the lung function test.

"You are completely normal," he was told after huffing and puffing into a tube for the lung function test.

Yeah, I'm normal," Harrison yelped.

Before heading off to see the offerings at the many booths, he plans to take the information sheet with his screening results along for his next doctor visit. As health fair officials stressed, the screening results aren't intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease but to be used with meeting with personal physicians.

"I have some risk factors but nothing really out of line," Harrison said. "I definitely know I need to do some lifestyle changes with exercise and nutrition."

High attendance

Attendance at Saturday's Living Well Community Health Fair, sponsored by the Sky Lakes Medical Center, was high. Tom Hottman, Sky Lakes spokesman, said estimates put the number of people participating between 2,300 and 2,500.

"We had a lot of positive responses from exhibitors and visitors. It seemed to be buy all the time," he said of health fair, which ran from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Klamath County Fairgrounds exhibit hall. Various Sky Lakes departments participated along with the Air Link ambulance, Klamath County Public Health, Klamath County Library, Cascade Health Alliance, hospice and a variety of other medical providers. Hottman said more than 200 people took lung function tests while more than 300 took advantage of the free screenings.

Setting up shop

Among medical staff participating at Saturday's Living Well Community Health Fair was Rinnah MacVittie, 38, an adult nurse practitioner who will open her own practice at the Sky Lakes Family Medicine Clinic on Monday.

She assisted by going over the results of health screenings with people checked for blood glucose, total cholesterol, body mass index, weight and blood pressure.

"I've been looking to the Pacific Northwest for a long time," she said of making the move from St. Louis with her partner, Roger Hicks, a pain management specialist. "I love, love the mountains, and I'm excited to be here."