Community members had a chance Wednesday to check their well-being as Harmony Science Academy and Blinn College’s nursing program teamed up to offer a health fair.

“With these health fairs, we pick up high blood pressure, diabetes early, so then they’re going to have a better quality of life, they’re going to be less likely to have a stroke or a heart attack. To me, it’s a great blessing to be able to do these,” said Anne Rathke, instructor in the Blinn College Associate Degree Nursing program.

Each person who attended the health fair was able to get checks done for blood pressure, diabetes, vision, hearing, ears, height and weight. Included in the list of checks were the normal ranges for each area, so each patient could understand the numbers and if they were at a normal level, high or low based on the person’s age, activity level and height.

For nursing student Aisling Wilson, it was her first time participating in a community health fair. She said it got her thinking about community health for her future.

“It’s actually really rewarding,” she said about the experience.

In addition to providing a service to the community, Rathke said, the fairs give second-semester nursing students experience outside the lab or classroom.

Wilson said they usually work on instructional dummies or each other when learning how to do new checks, but the health fair gives them the opportunity to work with actual patients. It also helps improve the students’ confidence in their techniques, as well as talking with others.

“It’s really neat, because there’s so many people that don’t have access to health care — you know basic, basic health care — and it’s so important just to be checked for height, weight, blood pressure, because all of those things are indicative of major diseases,” she said. “And some people don’t even know they have diabetes or hypertension.”

When developing health fairs, Rathke said, they try to go into places where the population might not regularly see a doctor. Depending on each person’s results, the nursing students also have literature and recommendations for clinics they can visit at a reduced cost if necessary.

Harmony Science Academy spokesperson April Crow noted the school does work with low-income families, but the health fair was also open to the broader community, where others might have similar needs as some families enrolled in the charter school.

“What I hope is that it gives them access to health checks and everything in a place that they’re comfortable with, that’s easy to get to [so] they don’t have to take off of work. It’s kid friendly,” she said. “It’s just providing access to something like this is a huge benefit for everyone around, for our families and for the community.”

Ray Estrada said he was glad he learned about the health fair and was able to go with his family, noting the students explained what the numbers and results meant for him.

Through the process, he said, he learned he has some health issues he needs to address with his doctor.

“Being of Hispanic culture, my parents never went to the doctor; my grandmother religiously refuses to go to the doctor at all,” he said. “I never really go a lot, but seeing that I have issues, I want to take care of my kids, so I think I should take care of myself as well.”

Blinn College students will be helping host another health fair Nov. 20 at the Brazos Valley Council of Governments, 3991 E 29th St. in Bryan.

“It’s a great blessing, because I just think it really make a big difference,” Rathke said about the community health fairs. “I see it as such a good learning experience for the nursing students.”

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