The 9Health Fair provides free and low-cost health screenings to Summit County residents | SummitDaily.com

The 9Health Fair provides free and low-cost health screenings to Summit County residents

Health Fair volunteer Pat Wathen, left, participates in the blood draw testing by EMT trained Emily Orlowski, right, during the 9Health Fair on Saturday, April 7, at the Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge.

Despite slushy conditions and intermittent power outages, the 9Health Fair went ahead Saturday morning at CMC Breckenridge, where Summit residents were able to take advantage of free and low-cost health screenings in a first step to "own their health." The event was sponsored and staffed by volunteers from the Rotary Club of Summit County and St. Anthony Summit Medical Center.

The fair, an annual community health event in its 27th year, is meant to provide Summit residents with a low-cost option for getting health tests done, including a variety of blood tests, such as blood chemistry and PSA tests, as well as take-home colon cancer screening kits.

This year, the fair took place at CMC Breckenridge because of construction taking place at Summit High School, where the event had taken place in the past. Kimberly Blank, lead health advisor at the fair, said the new venue worked out for the fair.

"The new venue was great and the flow was great," Blank said. "People were getting labs they wanted, as well as eye, dental, hearing and heart screenings."

Retired local surgeon Don Parsons, who sported a Dr. Seuss hat as he made rounds observing and helping at the screening stations, said that the event had a decent, if lower than average, attendance compared to years past.

"It's been less busy than it has been in the past," Parsons said. "Might be the change of venue or the weather."

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"We were short on some numbers, probably about 200 less than we thought we'd see," Blank said. "I don't know if the weather played a part in that, and we also had some power outages that might have kept people away." Blank referred to partial outages in Breckenridge that had lights flickering on and off in the venue throughout the morning.

Blank said the event was targeted toward folks who need basic health tests but can't afford or don't have time to see a family doctor.

"This event was especially for anyone who would like to have the lab results and the screenings but might not have a primary care doctor," Blank said, "and to get the results that will help them keep themselves healthy."

For the health screenings, St. Anthony Summit Medical Center provided over a dozen medical volunteers to conduct the screenings, while members of the Rotary Club guided attendees around the venue to the various screening stations.

Aside from screenings, the fair also provided a drug take-back station facilitated by the Summit County Sheriff's Office. Senior Sergeant Dave Martinez manned the station and accepted unused and expired drugs from the public for proper disposal. Martinez said the program aimed to keep prescription medication off the streets and out of the environment.

"We do it so that these medications don't go into the water system, get thrown into the landfill or other places where birds and animals could eat them," Martinez said. "It gets those medications off the streets. Every year we take 10-15 pounds turned in at this event, and we have drop-off sites throughout the county throughout the year. The program is a great way to safeguard the household and environment."

Martinez said the disposed medication would be handed over to the state, which incinerates the drugs at an undisclosed location.

Jeanne Bistranin, executive director of the Summit Foundation and Rotarian who volunteered at the event, said the fair fulfilled the Rotary Club's main mission: helping the community.

"For the Rotary club, our purpose is service," Bistranin said. "It's an honor for the Rotary to work with the 9Health fair to provide volunteers. We feel it's important for people to take care of themselves and have good health, and these screenings are a good way to start that process. "