National Health Center Week festivities attract hundreds

Youngster undergoes medical testing during recent National Health Week activities.

Youngster undergoes medical testing during recent National Health Week activities.

Most children don’t enjoy going to the doctor for an asthma test or other important health related testing. But when you throw in face painting, clowns, food, music and prizes somehow their distain turns into excitement.

Hundreds of children took advantage of National Health Center Week festivities conducted by Community Health of South Florida Inc. (CHI). The weeklong series of events was geared at getting children ready to head back to school and recognizing the role that Community Health Centers like CHI play in our neighborhoods.

The five events were packed with people and insightful information for everyone. The week kicked of with the Henry Schein Family Health Awareness Fair. Parents brought their children to get free book bags, enjoy entertainment and, most importantly, get a variety of medical tests on site at CHI’s Doris Ison Health Center, 10300 SW 216 St.

“This is a lot of fun,” Renee Gonzalez said. “I brought my children to get free backpacks and I didn’t realize that we were in for all of this. I’m not going to be able to get them to leave.”

Hot 105 did a live remote from the health center featuring, radio host Rodney Baltimore. People heard the message and came to see what all the buzz was about.

But that was just the beginning. CHI has a commitment to provide healthcare and outreach to everyone. From there the fun moved to the Everglades Housing Complex in Florida City with more food, fun and health screenings.

CHI also put on a special health fair for the homeless and those in transition at the Verde Gardens Apartments Community Center. This was a joint effort with the Chapman Partnership for the Homeless, Camillus House and Citrus Network Inc. More than 80 families attended and took advantage of much needed free HIV/AIDS testing, glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure screenings. Congressman Joe Garcia and his staff were there to join in the successful event.

Even CHI’s healthcare forum and luncheon entertained and informed at the Miami-Dade Cultural Center. Mariachi strummed a tune drawing the crowd into the auditorium. Then a surprise visit from a President Obama impersonator amused the crowd. All this led up to a very informative and important informational panel discussion on the Affordable Care Act. Colonel Brodes Hartley Jr., CHI’s president and CEO, explained how the federal healthcare law will affect CHI. Services are expanding, facilities are being upgraded and staff is on a training mission to provide top of the line service. Hartley said he expects the number of patients possibly to double under the Affordable Care Act.

Janet Perkins, executive director for the Miami Dade Office of Health Care Planning also sat on the panel and spoke about how the plan would work and how it would affect everyone.

Finally, State Rep. Kionne McGhee spoke about the issue from a legislative level.

“Events like this give people valuable information,” said Colonel Brodes Hartley. “It brings a complicated issue like the Affordable Care Act into an understandable and interesting format for everyone.”

The grand finale wrapped up health center week at Southland Mall’s Back to School Health Fair. CHI organized dozens of vendors and health screening booths to line the hallways of the mall. Meanwhile children participated in a magic show and enjoyed other entertainment.

“We pulled off a week of successful enriching events,” Col. Hartley said. “It makes me proud to know that we were able to impact the community and help so many. This is part of what will be a constant effort to reach out to those in the community and empower them to take charge of their own healthcare.”

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