Health fair set for Saturday: Free screenings, vaccinations intended to bring care to medically underserved
For most of the past 12 years, Plano ISD's community health fair has offered families free screenings, information about health and wellness issues, and family-friendly activities.
But district-wide budget cuts, the result of a $5 billion hit to public education during the state's 2011 legislative session, caused the district to put the event on hold last year.
"We didn't have quite the manpower that we needed to put this together the previous school year," said Adrian Rodriguez, behavior specialist for Bowman Middle School.
This year, however, the festival is back, and in full force. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Williams High School, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano will provide 400 flu vaccinations, 200 lipid panels, and blood pressure and scoliosis screenings to visitors -- all free of charge.
The festival is intended to provide much-needed preventative care to east Plano, an area that has been identified by the Collin County Adult Clinic as medically underserved, said Danelle Parker, manager of community health improvement for Texas Health Presbyterian Plano.
"For a lot of this community, this is one of the few opportunities they have to get a free screening, and we can help identify problems with hypertensions or lipid panels or cholesterol issues," she said. "... Right there, we can submit a referral to the clinic if [the patient doesn't] have a health care provider, and they can make an appointment to follow up with whatever lab value we've shown them that is abnormal."
The hospital will also provide health and wellness information on cancer, heart disease and other illnesses, as well as information from community resources and nonprofits, including Access Counseling, Big Brothers Big Sisters American and Habitat for Humanity, who will have tents set up on the event grounds.
"We're providing the resources for people," Rodriguez said. "Hopefully, many of the people who are already there can sign up for volunteer efforts or just to get some additional services in different ways."
The festival will also feature hearing and vision screenings courtesy of the Plano Lions Club and a new recreation zone inside the school's stadium. The new area will feature bounce houses and family-friendly physical activities led by Plano ISD physical education teachers, Rodriguez said.
"We just feel it's a holistic approach to do it this way, so that people can see that it's not just about getting checked, it's also about maintaining a healthy lifestyle," Rodriguez said.
The event, which is expected to draw more than 1,000 visitors throughout the day, will also feature face painting, Zumba for Kids and free crafts for younger visitors, though the health aspects of the festival are geared toward adults.
"There are resources for kids in the community," Parker said. "There are school nurses that are looking out for them and different screenings that go on throughout the school year. But their parents, primarily, don't get any wellness or prevention health done. The population that we're seeking to serve generally waits until there's something wrong, or they're sick, to seek out health care."
Free immunizations are advertised on a flier for the event, but the group providing the shots will not be available to make this year's event, Rodriguez said. The district will instead distribute information sheets on the shots to families, he said.
The entrance to the fair will be held on the 18th Street side of Williams High School be the entrance, near P Avenue.