The Boulder JCC last week played host to one of several 9 Health Fairs across the state. Before the doors opened at 7 a.m., the line was out the door, around the building and down the street.
Jerry Pinsker donned his driving hat for the event, shuttling people the half mile between the JCC and a church parking lot. Id say, so far, Ive put about 20 miles on the van so, ten round-trips in three hours.
Im not at all surprised by how many people are here, said first time volunteer Greg DiSalvo. He spent his morning directing the flow of traffic inside the JCC.
Ive never been to a health fair before but I am very impressed with it. Everything is handled very well, especially in this community center. The organization is very good.
Credit for that fluid organization goes to Shari Blake Schnee, who has been the site coordinator for the last four years.
She spends about nine months and hundreds of hours planning the five-hour event. It takes time to recruit the volunteers, review what worked the previous year, devise solutions to improve operations and accommodate new services offered by the Health Fair each year.
Its like staging a military operation, said the Boulder JCC Executive Director Linda Loewenstein.
You work weeks and weeks and then theres a strike and its over . . . with fewer casualties.
All joking aside, one attendee needed medical attention after going through the blood tests, but then recovered quickly.
In total, 560 people flooded the Boulder JCC on Kalmia. Thats roughly 100 fewer people than last year.
Blake Schnee said she thought the numbers were down slightly because there were more [health fair] sites this year than last year. Also, I think because of the economy; people dont have the extra $30 for blood work.
As far as logistics, Blake Schnee rearranged the ever-popular blood room (a.k.a. the JCCs gym-auditorium) to improve the flow of patients and volunteers.
They also added an extra podiatrist to their ranks because it was really busy last year. Otherwise, the rooms are pretty much the same from one year to the next.
This year, the 9 Health Fair featured a new pilot program rheumatoid arthritis screening.
It entails a blood draw and a screening where they check your joints and do a physical examination to see if you have any swelling in your elbows, shoulders or knees, said medical assistant Andilyn Brockert, who was stationed at one of the tables in the gym, ready to draw blood.
She attended to people across the age spectrum.
People think rheumatoid arthritis comes with age, but [testing] is really encouraged with everybody.
So far, Ive had everywhere from a 21-year-old to the oldest you can get, said Brockert.
Rheumatoid arthritis is when the immune system turns against itself. While no one knows what causes the disease, scientists have linked it to genetics. Still, some people who develop RA lack the tell-tale genes, while others who test positive for the genes never get the disease.
I think thats why [9 Health Fair] added it this year; it can happen to anybody and this way everyone had the change to get the screening, said Brockert.
Boulder residents Jan Pettipiece and her husband, Jay, participate in the health fair every year.
They get all the blood tests to keep track of where we are, said Jan.
I believe in the wider community this is the best thing we can do to help everyone, said Loewenstein of the Boulder JCCs participation in the event.