Fair focuses on health

Posted: Thursday, March 10, 2005

This year marks the 10th for the Village Fair in Soldotna, which promotes health and wellness on the central Kenai Peninsula.

Organizers say there will be more than 100 booths representing the community between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Soldotna High School.

Michelle McKay, health fair coordinator for Central Peninsula General Hospital, said there will be free health screenings for glaucoma, oral cancer and height and weight measurements among other tests.

"We'll just be looking for anything out of the ordinary that people can follow up with their physician later. There will also be a hearing and blood pressure screening for free," she said.

Blood work can be done for some additional cost. A blood panel costs $35, a prostate antigen panel costs $25, and a thyroid panel costs $30.

McKay said this work can be done without a physician's order and for significantly less cost than usual.

"If you were to have blood work done at the clinic or hospital it would cost you around $200," McKay said.

People who plan to have blood work done should fast for 12 hours and only take in water and regular medications, though diabetics should not fast. Alaska Health Fair Inc. in Anchorage will analyze the data and send results to participants, which can then be taken to a physician if need be.

McKay said this is a good opportunity for anyone interested in their personal health.

"The are a lot of people who have developed diabetes who don't even know it. It's important to have a checkup," she said.

McKay will take call-in questions about health and the fair on "Sound Off" on KSRM AM 920 from 10 to 11 a.m. today.

McKay said the public turnout for the fair has increased every year.

"Last year we had 380, so this year we're hoping for 400 or more," she said.

Also on the bill for Saturday is a blood drive hosted by the Blood Bank of Alaska and a community workshop, "Introduction to Consumer Health Information on the Internet" in the Soldotna High library from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m.

Julie Niederhauser of the Kenai Community Library will give two workshops on MedlinePlus.gov, a site she calls "one of the best medical information sites out there." The site was created by the National Library of Health.

"It's hands-on education so people will be able to sit down and start looking for medical information critical to them personally. I'll walk people through the process at the workshops," Niederhauser said.

The Web site contains detailed information about 650 health topics. Niederhauser also will inform fair attendees about Dirline, an online listing of 9,000 health-related organizations.

The presentations are part of the library's goal of becoming a medical information center in the area through grant funding.

"It will be worthwhile, and I hope people take the information home and use it. I'm passionate about getting this information out. I want people to know about it because it's all right wherever they use the Internet," she said.

For more information on the workshops, call Niederhauser at 283-4378. For more information on the health fair, call 714-4775.

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