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Health Fair Draws Blood and a Crowd

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Feb. 2, 2008 — Awareness, screening and prevention are the key elements of a healthy life. That was the consensus of health care workers at a St. Croix Rotary and St Croix Rescue Health Fair Saturday.
"So many people can't afford testing or regular checkups," said Dr. Vilma Colon from the Veterans Clinic. "At least they learn about health issues here."
Colon consulted with those in attendance after screenings. If she saw they needed medical attention, she told them where to seek help.
The St. Croix Rotary Club and the St. Croix Rescue sponsored the third annual fair at the rescue-training academy at Five Corners. Rotary Club Harborside conducted a blood drive with Juan F. Luis Hospital.
More than 60 people came for free testing and screenings that included blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, HIV and more.
"Some people don't like to test their glucose or can't afford strips, so they look for free health fairs,"said Liz Goggins, president of St. Croix Rotary Club.
Rotarian Jason Henry, HIV-prevention coordinator for the Department of Health, did the blood sugar and cholesterol screening. "This is a good thing helping people know where they are with their health," Henry said. "Prevention is better than care."
Henry said the Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, from the Department of Health, provided the testing supplies.
Also from the Department of Health was Adrian Edwards giving HIV tests. "Everyone needs to know their status on HIV," Edwards said. "I am glad to be here today and giving the service."
The Village V.I. Partners in Recovery had two representatives giving out information on their services for the mentally ill, substance abusers and the homeless.
EMT instructor Peter Dybing checked blood pressure. He also had a pulse oxymeter that read oxygen levels and pulse rate.
"All of these tests here paint a picture that can be discussed with a doctor," Dybing said.
Participating in the fair for the second time was the American Cancer Society. "People here still see cancer as other people's diseases," said Lindsay Finch, Cancer Control Committee chairman. "We strongly stress awareness and educating people." Finch said cervical and prostate cancer rates are very high in the Virgin Islands.
Lionel Downer and Brian Ridgeway from Rotary Club Harborside were volunteering at the Juan F. Luis Hospital mobile blood unit. Downer said the hospital is in desperate need of blood. Debra Andrews, a blood bank technician, said the hospital goes through 60 to 80 pints of blood a month. They replenish stock through Puerto Rico, which is very costly at $240 a pint.
"It is very important for the community to get involved and donate," Andrews said. "The mobile unit is a great way for clubs and groups to get involved since we can take it anywhere." Helping to draw blood was Barbara Williams, a medical technician. Downer said the majority of Rotarians did donate during the fair. They had collected 25 units by the end of the fair.
Dr. Kerana Kefalos gave a presentation on holistic healing. Dr. Alecia Lewitt presented a chiropractic care discussion. Dr. Dianne Brinker gave a presentation on stress management.
EMTs from the St. Croix Rescue led tours of the academy, and demonstrated how they extricate people trapped in wrecked vehicles.
St. Croix Rescue Chief Greg Richards said he was very pleased to partner with Rotary to bring life saving programs to the community. "It's better for people to be educated about health care issues than us having to rescue them in health emergencies," he said.
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