Fair to offer tips, screenings
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The Havre Health & Safety Fair at Holiday Village Mall often attracts thousands of people interested in learning more about ways to detect and prevent disease. Organizers think that will be true again Saturday, when Holiday Village Mall and Northern Montana Health Care sponsor the event, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Holiday Village Mall. Like other organizations, Northern Montana Health Care employees will be volunteering their time to help the crowds of interested people, said Gina Barker, Northern Montana Health Care's director of marketing and public relations. Hospital officials say many older people attend the health fairs, but they are heartened by the number of younger, health-conscious people who show up. Among the activities available for attendees at the fair: • Screenings for diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure and bone density provided by professionals from Northern Montana Health Care. • Information on alcohol and drug abuse from the HELP Committee. • Free H1N1 shots from the Hill County Health Department for people of all ages. • Information on how to lose pounds and keep them off from TOPS. • Music therapy in the form of harp music by Mary Stevens from 1 to 2:30 p.m. • Free bicycle helmets for children from noon until 3 p.m., if the supply lasts that long. • Information on healthy nutrition for children and infants provided by the WIC program. • Family planning information available from the Hill County Health Department. • Weight control information from Curves for Women. Much more information and many more activities will be available. The event will be the result of weeks of planning by the sponsors. The screenings are designed to let people know if they might have a problem, hospital officials said. Lisa Ranes, a certified diabetes educator at Northern Montana Hospital, said anyone who thinks they may have blood-sugar problems is especially urged to take the screenings. Anyone who has any of the symptoms or whose family has a history of diabetes should be tested. The testers will ask people when they most recently ate, so they can figures out if the blood sugar levels are unusually high. "If you find your blood sugar is high, you can follow up with your physician," she said. She will also provide information on diabetes — and the myths about diabetes. "Many people don't think diabetes is a serious disease," she said. "More people die from diabetes than breast cancer and HIV combined," she said. Stacie Haas, a registered nurse and employee health coordinator, will work with volunteer nursing students from Montana State University- Northern in conducting blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose screenings. The students are nearing graduation, she said, and the work will give them experience in working directly with patients. The screenings won't give the final diagnosis, she said. "But they will help you to see if you need further tests." For instance, if people show indications of diabetes, she said, "we can walk them over to the diabetes educator." John Rosenbaum, vice president of professional services, said the bone density screenings his staff will conduct are painless — people only have to remove their foot wear. A machine examines the heel and results give a good indication if bone density is insufficient, he said. Generally, older people suffer from bone density problems, he said, but the disease is sometimes found in people in their 20s and 30s. He called it "the silent disease," because people often have no symptoms. People with bone density problems often are susceptible to bone fractures, he said, Older people with bone density problems often have a hard time recovering from broken bones, he added. Tracy Cowan, a radiation therapist at the Sletten Cancer Center, said she will provide people with information on the center and what it provides people. Many people don't know what services are available, she said. They travel to other Montana cities to get services they could get at home. "It is easier and less stressful for people to come here," she said. Bruce Lamb, the health center's director of rehabilitation services, will oversee the balancing tests. People who feel they may have balancing issues should take the test she said. Doctors can provide people with exercises, some that can be done sitting down, he said.