More than 160 community members visited UConn Health’s Heart Health Fair for free screenings on National Wear Red Day, Feb. 2 in the Main Building’s lobby.
Participants hailed from many towns ranging from nearby Farmington, New Britain, West Hartford, Avon and Burlington to even the distant towns of Manchester, Old Saybrook, Norwich, and New London.
The large, festive event was hosted by UConn Health’s Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center and staffed by a variety of volunteering doctors, physician assistants, nurses, EMS, registered dieticians, nursing students, medical students, communication and marketing department staff, and other employees from across UConn Health.
Staff and students provided free screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, and body fat percentage. Plus, at educational booths they shared knowledge about heart-healthy lifestyle, nutrition, heart attack and stroke prevention, stress reduction, smoking cessation and more. Also, attendees had the opportunity to take a free yoga class with medical student instructor Dianne Gan who teaches at the UConn Health Wellness Center.
Each attendee received a personalized heart health assessment by Brad Biskup, P.A., who leads the Lifestyle Medicine Clinic at the Calhoun Cardiology Center. Biskup continued to perform health assessments for close to two hours after the fair ended to ensure each and every participant knew their key heart health goal numbers to reach and recommendations they needed to improve his or her heart health.
Michael of Avon found the event very informative. “The fair was very good and gave me an idea of where I stand with my heart health numbers. My blood pressure is high, higher than I want it to be. But now I have good educational handouts to read.”
Chir-lane Johnson of New Britain attended the fair shortly after learning a family member had suffered a heart attack. “I wanted to check out my health,” said Johnson. “Always love thyself, so what better way. The heart health fair makes you want to change your diet and exercise more to not risk a heart attack.”
“The fair was very nice and I was really excited I got to do yoga,” said Sharon Straka of New Britain. “Plus, the healthy diet information table was really good, along with both the cholesterol and fat density checks.”
Alex Klaneski really enjoyed the fair. “It was fantastic,” shared the longtime UConn School of Dental Medicine patient who was in town visiting family in nearby West Hartford. “I discovered my cholesterol is a little high and I also now want to see if I can get back to my fighting weight.”
The fair’s free raffle drawing included donated prizes from the UConn Health Bookstore, the Cornucopia Gift Shop, and even a home blood pressure monitoring machine donated by UConn Health’s own Dr. William White, chief of the Division of Hypertension and Clinical Pharmacology.
Klaneski, also a winner of a raffled-off UConn Husky plush blanket, added: “The physician assistant that spoke to me for my health assessment gave me really good advice. I would like him as my own physician.”
And it wasn’t just the community members who loved the Heart Health Fair.
“It was nice to help out the community,” said Teotima Hollis, a volunteering UConn School of Nursing student who recently started training in the school’s accelerated nursing program.
“We were busy from the get go,” said Darlene Benson of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UConn Health who organized the free cholesterol screening with UConn John Dempsey Hospital’s nursing leadership team.
Stephanie Moran, RN, Minal Dave, RN, and Asha Rene, RN were the nursing volunteers conducting the rapid cholesterol screenings for total cholesterol, bad cholesterol (LDL), good cholesterol (HDL), and triglycerides. They work on the hospital’s sixth floor dedicated to oncology managed by Beth Brookshire, RN.
“I thought it was great,” said Benson. “All the visitors were saying what a wonderful experience to offer. They were all so appreciative. Plus, all the nurses were saying how much they liked it too.”
Benson stressed, “It was a big effort by all to make this Heart Health Fair happen, and it was definitely a success.”