Courtesy of Northwest Indiana Life
by Curtis Hankins
Physicians, nurses, and healthcare professionals of all kinds packed St. Timothy Community Church on Saturday for Methodist Hospitals’ We Love Gary Health Fair. Attendees enjoyed free health screenings, refreshments, and even took part in chair yoga.
The event was part of Methodist Hospitals’ Annual Free Fall Community Health Fair series. The hospital organizes the fair to educate community members—especially seniors—about the healthcare options available to them in their area. Visitors tested their blood sugar, cholesterol, and other key health factors. Some also took the chance to chat with doctors such as Dr. Mustafa Nakawa, M.D., Family Physician who practices out of Merrillville.
“The healthcare system has barriers and is often complicated and hard to navigate,” Nakawa said. “Giving the community members a chance to talk to physicians in a setting like this helps remove those barriers. Often, I’ll find myself talking to a patient who hasn’t seen a doctor in years. This is a more comfortable, laid back setting than an office.”
Strokes and heart attacks are among the leading causes of death in the United States. Methodist offered heart and stroke risk assessments to all visitors at no charge.
“A lot of community members have limited access to physicians, doctors, and even a healthy diet,” said Christine Lambert, Stroke Coordinator for Methodist Hospitals. “By doing these health fairs we can identify risk factors and educate toward prevention. For some patients, this is the only time they see a doctor or get a health screening. Hopefully, by identifying those risks, they might choose to make a lifestyle change. Healthy lifestyles are very important.”
According to Nakawa, health fairs help encourage community members to take charge of their health.
“People have different fears and anxieties about seeing a doctor,” he said. “But when you get to know them at some place like this, before you step into their office, it helps you break those barriers and build a relationship.”
Staying physically active is a big part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Methodist demonstrated one way that people can keep moving, even while they are seated, with chair yoga. They also showcased what to do in emergency situations with CPR and wound care demonstrations. The local AARP chapter also set up a booth, offering access to senior resources and safety tips.
“This is great because seniors should be going to the doctor at least once a year for their wellness,” said Mattie Lightfoot, a volunteer for AARP. “A lot of them don’t. They can come here, take their tests, and get their information right away.”
To learn more about Methodist Hospitals, visit www.methodisthospitals.org.