Before the doors even opened, a long line of prospective patients waited at the Anschutz Medical Campus for the 9Health Family Fair on Saturday, Oct. 10. By the end of the morning, more than 300 visitors had been helped by more than 200 volunteers easily identifiable by their bright red T-shirts. The volunteers provided life-changing intervention and information at more than 30 care stations—from blood-pressure checks to breast exams, skin screening to stroke education.
“We are in the Aurora community, we have a mission to do community outreach and this is definitely a great way to do it,” said Hillary Duffy, MPT, manager of outpatient rehabilitation therapy at the University of Colorado Hospital and medical coordinator for this year’s 9Health Family Fair. “9Health Fair has been doing this so long, and they are so good at it, it’s a perfect way to get connected to more families in Aurora.”
By the end of the morning, caregivers left knowing their time had been well-spent serving patients in the community—and many of their patients left with stories of care that could be life-changing.
Ann Verbrugge made a point to visit the rheumatoid arthritis (RA) table, because the joints in her hands were painful and swollen. “I think it’s OA–osteoarthritis,” Verbrugge said.
A volunteer explained that evaluating her for RA would take a short questionnaire and a blood test. In less than a minute, Kevin Deane, MD, was taking a hard look at her hands and making notes.
Verbrugge likes coming to the 9Health Family Fair because “the people are nice and everything moves fast.” She has already had two knee replacements, and she is well-informed about her health. In fact, she confesses that sometimes she thinks, “I know it all.”
But today, Deane tells her that he suspects further investigation is warranted to confirm a possible diagnosis of RA—not OA, as Verbrugge had self-diagnosed.
“This is a classic case of why it’s extremely important to find these cases of RA that have not been previously diagnosed,” Deane said. “If you catch it early, patients do a lot better, because we can get them on the right treatments.”
Deane has participated in 9Health Fairs for seven years and during that time has seen 12,000 patients, 300 of whom were diagnosed with RA. Now, based on the findings from that large population of health fair patients, he is beginning a trial for a treatment to prevent RA. He plans to find potential trial participants at the most logical place—a 9Health Fair.
Joanna Scott smiled proudly as her 5-year-old son Savaughn has his height measured. This mother of two—her 8-year old son Maurice is also along—came to the 9Health Family Fair to have her children’s overall health checked, but she is especially focused on diabetes screening and an eye exam.
Scott said she likes the fact that there is so much information and health care available in one spot. Her sons liked the games and prizes. “It doesn’t feel like you’re going to the doctor,” Scott said. “We came for their eyes, but we stayed for everything else!”
Isabele Hernandez navigated the 9Health Family Fair with an invaluable aide—a volunteer translator, Thelma Rodriquez. Rodriquez, who normally works at the College of Nursing clinic Sheridan Health Services, said that helping is “the least I can do.”
Hernandez, who works full-time at Wendy’s, heard about the 9Health Family Fair on the radio, and came because it was on a day she did not have to work. Working as a team, patient and translator asked questions and got answers about many health issues, including how to get a mammogram.
Hernandez also stopped by the facial screening station run by Tamara Terzian, PhD, and Neil Box, PhD, from the School of Medicine’s Department of Dermatology. Hernandez looked into the camera and within seconds, the Canfield Reveal facial imager had rendered an image that highlighted places on her face that had been damaged by ultraviolet rays.
“As professionals in public health, we have a responsibility to work in the community to raise awareness about skin cancer,” Box said. “This is a personalized way to show people what the sun has done to their face over a lifetime. Research shows this helps people pay attention to suns safety.”
With Rodriquez translating, Terzian talked to Hernandez about what the image reveals. Hernandez leaves with a clear understanding. “More sunscreen!” she said, pointing to her cheeks.
“We show the damage, but we also give them hope,” Terzian said. “We let them know that it’s never too late to use protection from the sun.”
“Instead of going to eight different doctors, I come here,” Reuel Hunt said as he filled out the paperwork to have his eyes checked.
Students, residents and School of Medicine faculty handled the steady stream of visitors to the 9Health Family Fair eye clinic.
“This gets us out of our routines and into the community,” said Frank Siringo, MD. “We get to interact with medical students and younger professionals and have fun while we are teaching and learning.”
Hunt read the eye chart like an expert. He is a 9Health Family Fair success story. He lost 50 pounds after learning that his blood pressure and cholesterol were high. Now, he says, “I keep checking them! And I always come to a 9Health Fair!”