Memorial Junior High School is a place of learning. That learning often extends beyond the final bell on Friday afternoons, such as last weekend when Franklin Hospital hosted its annual Community Health Fair in the school’s gymnasium.
Residents from Valley Stream, Franklin Square, Elmont, Malverne and other surrounding communities were able to learn about the services that Franklin Hospital offers and how to keep themselves healthy. A few hundred people browsed the tables and took advantage of free health screenings at the April 13 event which was held at the junior high for the fourth straight year.
At each of the nearly 40 tables, residents could get information about a variety of health-related subjects including nutrition, medication safety, stroke and heart attack warning signs, radiology and dental health. “It’s a pretty good sampling of what Franklin has to offer,” said Audrey Tullo, the hospital’s community relations liaison who ran the fair.
There were also a variety of other agencies on hand. The Valley Stream Fire Department shared home fire safety information and even gave out free plastic helmets to children. The Lions Club promoted its Vial of Life, hearing and eye programs. The North Shore-LIJ health system touted some of its programs such as weight loss surgery.
For those interested in checking in on their own health, there were free cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure screenings. Valley Stream resident Ralph Polverino, who said he attended the health fair every year, said it is like getting a second opinion for free.
The Orzac Center for Extended Care and Rehabilitation, which is connected to the hospital, also promoted its services. One of the more popular tables was “Wiihabilitation.” Visitors were able to play a variety of Nintendo Wii sports games to learn how these are used for patients needing rehabilitation from an injury.
Tanya Borges, a physical therapist assistant, said these games are used mostly for older patients to improve coordination and balance. “It’s pretty much just a creative way to rehabilitate,” she said. “It’s different from what we normally do.”
Dr. Gautam Reddy, a gastroenterologist in Valley Stream, met with visitors to talk about the importance of colonoscopies. He said that only about a quarter of eligible adults get this important test than can help catch colon cancer and other intestinal-related problems. “You always want to screen something before to prevent a disease,” he said.
Student volunteers from Memorial Junior High and Central High School greeted guests and helped them find their way around. Tony Spezio, past president of the Central/Memorial PTSA, said he likes that the school and hospital work together to put on this fair every year.
He noted that it used to be held in Franklin’s parking lot, so weather could be a concern. That is no longer the case. He said he hopes as word spreads of the health fair, turnout will increase in the future. “Anything you can do to help people stay healthy is worthwhile,” he said.
Connie Pincus, a Valley Stream resident, comes to the health fair every year with her husband. She said there was a lot of good information available, and she said she learned a few tips to improve her balance. She also took advantage of the free screenings, and said everything was good.
Tullo said if the health fair makes a difference for at least one person, and based on the feedback she receives it does, it was a success. “It’s a nice feeling for me,” she said, “that I’m helping someone.”
Franklin Hospital, located in North Valley Stream, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.