Herald Neighbors

L.I. seniors access free health care

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While the blood pressure monitor cuff tightened around her arm, Sivita Marciano, 79 from Merrick sat still keeping her eyes on the digital screen during the Golden Gathering Health Fair held at the Freeport Recreation Center hosted by Senator John Brooks and Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy. Stepping into its second year, the health fair included vision, dental, blood pressure, flu shots, cholesterol tests and other screenings for seniors. According to Brooks, the fair is a health intervention he wants Long Island seniors to take advantage of.

“The Golden Gatherings are remarkable displays of community generosity and neighbors caring for neighbors,” Brooks said. “It brings together hundreds of people in our District to share important resources to benefit our senior citizens and their families.”

Held on Oct. 18, the interactive event included doctors, student nurses and nurse practitioners from Farmingdale State College and Stony Brook University. The event was designed to provide basic preventive medicine and medical screenings for seniors. Medical staff was not alone at the Recreation Center, but vendors of all sorts — food pantries, health insurance representatives and even mental health organizations met with the seniors to provide immediate resources and “aging well” tips.

“I learned about different vaccinations I should be looking into like shingles and pneumonia [at my age],” said Patricia Burr-Peters, 64 from Freeport.

Burr-Peters prides on how despite her age she is able to maintain an active fitness routine by attending the Freeport Recreation Center regularly. However, she said attending the health fair meant opening the conversation with medical professionals about her health and wellness concerns.

“We’re screening for things like sleep apnea, cholesterol, diabetes,” said Stony Brook University student nurse practitioner, Eunice Benitez. “We’re also providing [seniors with] living resources or if they need help with food. After that we’re educating them depending on the screening we need to focus on.

Freeporter, Marietta Cleckly, 76, attended the event to meet with the medical staff in one place with the intent to follow up with her primary healthcare physician once she can recognize her immediate medical needs.

“This is important,” Cleckly said. “Even if you have insurance you still have to go to three to four doctors at different places. Here I can get a good overview of my overall health at once.”

The event also provided flu shots for the seniors and many lined up to receive one. The Farmingdale State College nursing students administered the shots and provided the senior with information on the benefits of receiving the vaccination yearly.

Attendee, Margret Bade, 76, from Freeport, admitted that prior to the senior health fairs, she rarely got a shot. However, since attending last year’s event, she learned the importance of the vaccine, its benefits for a woman her age and has made it a priority since. Bade also added that since she’s gotten her flu vaccination she has gotten less sick than years past.

“It’s so convenient to come here to get my flu shot,” Bade said. “Ever since I get my shot every year, I don’t have [cold] troubles anymore.”

Updated Oct. 29 at 2:45 p.m.: In a previous version of this article we misspelled Stony Brook University. We apologize for our error.