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Public encouraged to take part in SH Health Fair this Saturday


August 16, 2016

How’s your health? Or, perhaps more specifically, how’s your healthcare?

Saturday, Aug. 20, might be a good time to find out as Sweet Home holds the first Sweet Home Community Health Fair and Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sweet Home High School Activity Gym.

The public is encouraged to stop by and take advantage of free health screenings, classes and information on nutrition, healthy housing and local services.

Smilekeepers will have its dental van on site for anyone who has dental concerns, and Steelhead Fitness will host exercise classes.

The event actually kicks off at 9 a.m. in front of the high school, 1641 Long St., with a 1-mile wellness walk.

The health fair is the first activity generated by an ad hoc committee of city officials, citizens and Samaritan Health Services officials, a committee formed after Samaritan’s plans to close down Wiley Creek Community, an assisted living facility, and open a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center there became public in January.

After Sweet Home residents protested the decision, Samaritan quickly abandoned those plans and agreed to put together a committee with the City Council to discuss healthcare needs in the Sweet Home community, creating direct lines of communication between the community and Samaritan, the largest healthcare provider in the region.

“It came out of that,” said Bob Dalton, a Sweet Home resident serving on the committee and chairman of the Health Fair event committee. “One of the things we wanted to accomplish was how do we reestablish and partner with Samaritan in Sweet Home.”

Event committee members include Dick Knowles, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Katrina Crabtree, Chamber board member Bill Matthews, Carol Oldshield, Boys and Girls Club Health and Wellness Coordinator Bobbie Kent-Brakeall, Farmers Market organizer Jan Nielson and Rhonda Greene. City Finance Director Pat Gray is organizing the wellness walk.

Dalton said the goal of the event is to make residents aware of healthcare services available to them, which Sweet Home can access that are available outside the community.

“What are the types of services that we have in our community that are available? We wanted to showcase that,” he said.

To that end, healthcare providers will provide blood pressure checks, heel density scans, balance checks and more during the event.

Sweet Home Farmers Market vendors will sell locally grown food. The fair will provide information on good nutrition.

The purpose of the event is multi-fold, Dalton said. First, it helps connect Samaritan to the community. It’s also something that can help improve Sweet Home’s image outside the community, and through it, various civic organizations can engage with each other and the community.

Organizers will use it as a way to find out more about what Sweet Home residents want in terms of healthcare, Dalton said. The flow of information will be a two-way street.

“What does our community need?” Dalton asked.

The organizers will be able to track what interests people who attend the Health Fair, he said. “I think, coming out of this, we’ll get an idea what people’s focus or needs are.”

People might be particularly interested in affordable quality housing, something that Samaritan is already looking at as a way to improve public health, he said, or they may be really interested in the dental van. In any case, organizers will find out what it is, and the city’s health committee can use that information to focus its efforts.

The Health Fair also will put prevention at the front and center.

Preventive care costs a little up front, saving more later, Dalton said. “I think if we can shift the culture, educate them on basic healthcare and life choices, then our community will be healthier. Health costs will be less expensive.”

Organizers are really looking at the event next year based on information gathered this year, Dalton said. “What we learn from this will drive next year.”

And with that information, “it kind of opens the door to additional services from Samaritan,” he said. “It will lead to other discussions. It gets the leadership and City Council all thinking differently.”

Health-related businesses are invited to register for a booth at the event by calling the Chamber of Commerce at (541) 367-6186.


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