The dreary weather did not prevent hundreds of Caribbean and other nationals from attending State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center’s University Hospital of Brooklyn’s 27th annual community health fair at its Central Brooklyn location in East Flatbush.
The fair, held on May 18, was in recognition of National Hospital Week, whose theme this year is “A Guiding Light for Changing Times.”
It featured free health information and screenings – blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, prostate, breast exam, Pap test, colon cancer test, hearing test, stroke screening, HIV testing, height and weight measurements, and more – as well as free refreshments, giveaways and raffle gifts.
There was also entertainment for people of all ages, including face painting, tap dancers, clowns, a DJ, pony rides, and fitness and exercise demonstrations.
The Brooklyn-based Sesame Flyers steel orchestra also banged out the latest Caribbean soca, calypso and reggae hits under rainy conditions.
“Every year, I come here,” said Trinidadian Angela Fisher, gyrating to soca vibes from a DJ. “I live right in the corner (at Linden Boulevard and 39th Street). I enjoy myself, of course.”
Registered Nurses Brenda Joseph, Juliette Lowe and Lashon Pitter, who hail from Grenada, Barbados and Jamaica, respectively, said they were promoting teenage health.
“This annual health fair, conducted by our hospital, is a wonderful event,” Joseph, an assistant director of nursing, told Caribbean Life in an exclusive interview. “Free screening and lots of health information are shared with our community members.”
Lowe praised Downstate for bringing health awareness to the community, stating that it does it “well.”
“This community has many healthcare needs, and the hospital is making every effort to meet these needs,” she said.
Pitter said it was imperative that the community take advantage of the free services that the hospital offers annually.
“Many people without (health) insurance, due to job loss and/or low income, should take part in these fairs to get information and free service to prevent frequent use of emergency rooms that are already overcrowded,” she urged.
Staff Assistant Trinidadian Glenda Anderson, who opened the fair by singing the US national anthem, agreed about the importance of attending health fairs and taking advantage of free services.
“I believe that health fair is very essential to the community, especially at this time when we are not sure of what will become of our hospital,” she said.
“The support of the hospital is vital,” she added. “So, having them come out and participate in all the services we offer is always a blessing. And it helps our health professionals to show that we are committed to the health and welfare of the community.”
Maria Yomtov, director of SUNY Downstate’s Center for Community Health Promotion and Wellness, which organized the event, said the health fair was a “celebration of our hospital’s history, its advancing technology and the dedicated healthcare professionals who make it the best place to come and receive excellent care.”