August 21, 2009
A beautifully written article talking about our Care Mobile and the help it provides to under serviced communities
Health fair offers alternative for those with little or no insurance
Lack of screenings, immunizations often delay kids’ attendance
|As mom Amy and sister Abigail, 3, observe, Devin Hurd, 4, gets his blood pressure checked by nurse Katherine Roth at a health fair at Palos Heights’ Shepard High School. (Photo for the Tribune by Yvette Marie Dostatni / August 14, 2009)
By Janice Neumann Special to the Tribune
August 19, 2009
When Michelle Griffin learned that her son’s pediatrician would no longer accept All Kids insurance, the Crestwood mother dreaded the long search for a new doctor who would take the state insurance program for children.
So as soon as Griffin found out Oak Lawn Community High School District 218 was holding a health fair in Palos Heights late last week, she made sure she was one of the first parents to arrive, with her 11-year-old son Patrick in tow.
“It’s way too long a wait to get in,” said Griffin about finding a new pediatrician. “This is really good.”
Patrick received a free school physical and immunizations at Ronald McDonald Care Mobile courtesy of Christ Advocate Medical Center in Oak Lawn at the health fair, which was held at the district’s Shepard High School.
“Look at the need that’s out there for some kids,” said Jacqueline M. Evans, a nurse practitioner with Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, who performed exams. “This is the only resource unless they’re on a waiting list at the county Health Department,” Evans said.
“If you don’t have insurance, often you’re putting things on hold until they get serious,” she said.
The health fair, which was for elementary through high school kids and their families, also offered health exams through St. Xavier University Clinic and eye exams through The Eye Specialists Center for nominal costs, as well as free dental exams, body fat and glucose testing, and blood pressure and bone density screenings.
Other offerings included “balance” testing by Chiro One Wellness Centers staff, free foot and ankle screenings from a podiatrist, and counseling information from organizations like the Salvation Army and Oak Lawn Family Services.
There were also free school supplies, free food and drink, culinary demonstrations on how to make smoothies, face painting, athletic skill competitions and Safety Town from the Cook County sheriff’s office — a small scale three-dimensional town that teaches kids how to be safe at places where they could be in danger. District dance teams and marching bands also performed.
The district decided to hold the health fair after several administrators attended a Council of Urban Boards of Education conference in Wyoming last summer, where educators suggested bringing the community into schools to develop improved relations.
“One of the struggles we face as a district is having kids start school on time because they don’t have their shots,” said Joe Fowler, principal of Delta Learning Center and Summit Learning Center, District 218’s alternative programs for struggling students. “Some folks can’t afford to get a lot of this taken care of for their kids,” Fowler said.
“We’re hoping great things happen here,” said Supt. John Byrne. Several of the roughly 300 families who attended said they were grateful for the fair’s offerings.
Willie Edwards Sr. and son Willie Aaron Edwards, 14, visited the Chiro One booth to test their balance and weight distribution by stepping on bilateral scales. When an imbalance is found, chiropractic staff said it could indicate spine misalignment. The father and son, who live in Robbins, found out their balance was a bit off, and learned they could follow-up privately with X-rays and possibly physical therapy.
“That’s something you really want to know about,” said Willie Edwards Sr.
“I think all schools should do this,” said Edwards, whose son is a freshman at the district’s Richards High School in Oak Lawn.
Martha Reilly said she was happy to attend the fair with daughters Katelyn, 9, and Kelleigh, 6, because her husband was laid off from his job recently and their health insurance will be ending by the end of the year.
“I’m going to try to take advantage of anything I can,” said Reilly, who lives in Worth with her family.
Reilly also said much of the free health information and free school supplies for her kids would come in handy.
“It’s comforting to know people out there care,” Reilly said.
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