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Senior health fair offers screenings and more

It was almost like Lollapalooza for the elderly.

About 400 seniors availed themselves of free health screenings and information while enjoying lunch, bingo, a raffle, and several live music acts during the 14th annual Cinco de Mayo Senior Health and Resource Fair in South Chicago.

Photo: Ed Finkel

Inclement weather forced the South Chicago senior health fair inside the local YMCA, but the music, bingo, free lunch and health screenings and other information went on as scheduled.

Hosted in the gymnasium of the South Chicago YMCA – it had been planned for the street outside, but the weather did not cooperate – the event was coordinated by Villa Guadalupe Senior Services and the Senior Service Coalition of Southeast Chicago, which counts NCP lead agency Claretian Associates among its members.

The screenings, provided by nearly 60 vendors, covered issues like bone density, blood pressure, hearing, kidney function, and incidence of prostate cancer, said Julia Lopez of Villa Guadalupe, who chairs the senior service coalition.

“This enables the community to receive free screenings that would otherwise be very costly to them, regardless of insurance or Medicare,” she said. “We invite major hospitals and many other medical providers. … It’s a wonderful opportunity for seniors to come together.”

Major donors to the event included Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Advocate Trinity Hospital, Atrium Healthcare Services LLC, and Caring Tree, while other key supporters included Ald. John Pope (10th), the City of Chicago Department of Family and Support Services, the 4th District Police, and the South Chicago YMCA.

Photo: Ed Finkel

A man gets his blood pressure tested during the event, which attracted hundreds of area seniors.

The Illinois Lions Club provided the hearing screenings out of a van parked outside Villa Guadalupe. Inside the YMCA gym, White Crane Wellness Center handled PSA testing, Pee Dee Kay exhibited its durable medical equipment, and Harwin Healthcare and Diagnostics screened for blood sugar. Not all the vendors were healthcare providers: The Federal Highway Administration, for example, gave out tips for senior drivers.

Rush provided screenings for blood pressure and handed out literature on the center’s senior health and wellness programs, said Dana Bright, coordinator of community health, who added that Rush has partnered with Villa Guadalupe for a number of years.

“In the effort to provide educational services for older adults, you tend to meet providers in the community,” Bright said, as the Holy Cross Marimba ensemble got cooking. “We try to provide people with the information and educational opportunities for older adults, as well as a strong focus on family members caring for older adults.”

Photo: Ed Finkel

Marimba music filled the air in the YMCA gymnasium.

Advocate Trinity, another senior service coalition member, handed out information that reflected May’s status as Stroke Awareness Month, said Patrick Owens, coordinator of community relations for the hospital.

“I wanted to get the word out about the signs and symptoms,” he said. “We’re here to provide services that the coalition is looking for. We like to be a good steward of the community, so we come out and [advertise] the services we offer on the Southeast Side.”

Atrium, which provides home health and wellness, dispensed educational information on prevention and early detection, said Pam Fernandes, clinical director. “We work a lot with patients who have chronic diseases like osteoarthritis, diabetes, congestive heart failure and Parkinson’s,” she said. “We wanted to bring better health for the community.”

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