Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (TouroCOM) students and two dozen community organizations convened at the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building Plaza in Harlem recently for the school’s 14th biannual Health Fair.
Students and faculty provided a variety of health screenings and information, counseling and giveaways to over 100 attendees.
Emphasis on heart health
“The main theme of this year’s health fair was risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, the leading cause of death for minority populations, especially African American,” said Dr. Kamilah Ali, the TouroCOM faculty member who organized the event.
Key offerings for heart health were screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and body weight. Information on mental health, smoking cessation and healthy eating were also offered, with healthy food prepared on site by the local non-profit Harlem Grown, along with demonstrations of physical fitness activities.
Twenty-three organizations participated, about half of which were new to the fair. They included New York State Sickle Cell Advocacy Network, NYC Smoke Free, T.E.A.L. (Tell Every Amazing Lady About Ovarian Cancer), Food Bank For NYC, Planned Parenthood, Safe Horizon/Street Works, Mount Sinai Mobile Prostate Cancer Screening, NYU College of Dentistry, and the NYC Department for the Aging.
Harlem resident Stephen Morris signed up for a PSA blood test for prostate cancer after walking by Mount Sinai’s mobile screening van on the perimeter of the plaza. “I saw my parents die of cancer when they were very young,” said Morris. “A lot of people, especially in the African American community, don’t have access to services. I hope more people in the community will see [the van] and become informed.”
Janet Williams participated in exercises on the plaza while accompanying her mother-in-law, a senior citizen and Harlem resident, to the fair. “I’m enjoying it and learning a lot. I have a problem with my knees. The exercises they showed me loosened up the joints for me. It’s very helpful.”
Medical student volunteers learned first-hand how people feel about their health and how to treat patients. Kristina Fecanji, a second-year medical student and president of the Association of Women Surgeons group on campus, said she wanted to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and the importance of preventative measures like timely pap smears.
“I wanted them to know there is help out there and that they can reach out.”Touro College of Pharmacy second-year student Ryan Fabian worked a table for the National Hispanic Pharmacists Association, where he spoke with attendees about how to take medications, manage side effects and other tips. “Often we find people just take their medications but don’t really change their lifestyle to actually help them,” he said.