Health fair takes over Regala gym

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 19, 2013

LAPLACE – St. John the Baptist Parish residents received important health related information at the parish-sponsored Health and Wellness Fair on Saturday.
The fair, which was coordinated by Director of the Department of Health and Human Services Rhonda Lemons, included local agencies and businesses focused on educating attendees about health concerns and healthy living. Staff members from the Teche Action Clinic were on site providing free pulse screenings and Body Mass Index testing, as well as respiratory, heart disease and stress management information.
The St. Charles Community Health Center administered free blood pressure and blood sugar screenings.  
With a focus on women, infants and children, the St. John Parish Health Unit distributed information on immunizations and emergency preparedness, and nurses from River Parishes Hospital provided tips to reduce the risks of breast cancer. Mary Carpenter, a two-time breast cancer survivor shared her story about survival and prevention. Representatives from Gem Drugs, a local pharmacy, distributed glucose meters and prescription information and explained the importance of diabetic shoes and other medical equipment.     
Behavioral and mental health resources were also available through the South Central Louisiana Human Services Authority and River Parishes Behavioral Health Assessment and Treatment Centers. Both partnered with local representatives of Louisiana Spirit to provide information related to mental health and substance abuse, depression screenings and assistance with accessing developmental disability services.
Louisiana Spirit has been active in St. John Parish since Hurricane Isaac, providing crisis counseling and stress management to individuals and families at home and in school.
“Mental health services are a continuing need even as Hurricane Isaac recovery winds down,” said Donald August, chairman of the Emotional and Spiritual Committee for the St. John Long Term Recovery Group  
Emergency responders from the Office of Fire Services were on hand to provide fire prevention and CPR safety demonstrations. The firefighters explained the proper use of smoke detectors while attendees enjoyed healthy fruit smoothies provided by Snap Fitness of LaPlace. Nycole Brown led complimentary Zumba Classes. The Elmwood Fitness Center mobile unit was on site to instruct and allow individuals opportunities to experiment with different types of fitness equipment.
“The Health and Wellness fair was very educational, meaningful and fun-filled,” said Lemons. “It is very important we continue to strive to reach the multitude of lives that need this valuable information.”  
In addition to the individual benefits, the Health Fair met one of the Citizens Advisory Committee’s project milestones to improve access to community health services and promote health awareness. The committee is managed by local individuals tasked with implementing a long-term plan for recovery following Hurricane Isaac.
“Health Fairs are a great way to encourage our residents to be proactive about their health,” said Parish President Natalie Robottom. “Providing a one-stop shop of health information is the first step in improving quality of life.”