Health Fair puts spotlight on resources

Published 10:24 am Wednesday, January 4, 2023

LAPLACE — Community partners recently came together for a health fair in LaPlace to connect residents to vaccinations and other resources in addition to fielding questions regarding social services concerns.

Vendors stationed at First Baptist Church of LaPlace included the LDH Region 3 Office of Public Health, Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana, the River Region Chamber of Commerce, Aetna Better Health of Louisiana, Health Blue, Amerihealth Caritas and the St. John the Baptist Parish Library System.

Approximately 75 attendees took advantage of free services offered on-site, including flu shots, COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, chicken pox vaccines and informational giveaways. Blood pressure and glucose testing was also offered at no cost, according to Jennifer Folse, health disparity strategist for the Region 3 Office of Public Health.

Jeff Mullen of Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana said the next event hosted in St. John Parish will include health screenings on the Mary Bird Perkins bus in April 2023. Other health-focused events are held periodically throughout Region 3, covering St. Charles Parish to St. Mary Parish. The next health fair for the region will take place in Napoleonville in February.

“The program is for community health workers like myself to get into the community and speak with people specifically about the importance of primary care health care physicians, to field any questions about Medicaid, and to share the importance of getting screened for colorectal cancer,” Mullen said.

According to Mullen, Region 3 is ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 4 in the country for colon cancer rates, making early detection education and screenings essential to decreasing mortality rates.

Through health fairs, the Office of Public Health and Volunteers of America also seek to open lines of communication with residents experiencing a crisis.

“We act as health case managers, so nay clientele that we have can call us about health concerns or any social services concerns they might have,” Mullen said. “Someone can call and say, ‘I don’t have food this month, is there any help out there?’ My job as a community health worker would be to find out what’s available for them in their particular parish and point them in the right direction.”

For more information about health resources and upcoming events, residents can contact Mullen at 985-727-7768.