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Boone Hospital Heart Fair educates residents on health issues

Thursday, February 21, 2008 | 6:28 p.m. CST; updated 5:06 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2008
George Tutt has his blood pressure checked at the Boone Hospital Heart Fair on Thursday. The fair was located on the hospital's bridge over Broadway and had several booths offering healthy foods, massages and other health-related services.

COLUMBIA — Sheridan Laws waited for her husband on Thursday while he had chemotherapy.

In the meantime, the 57-year-old homemaker relaxed with a free massage, picked up pamphlets and talked to medical professionals at booths lining a glass hallway at the Boone Hospital Heart Fair.

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Last summer at a similar health fair in her hometown of Downing, about 30 miles northwest of Kirksville, Laws found out that her husband had cancer.

“He wouldn’t go to the doctor,” Laws said, “So I talked him into going to one of these fairs.”

It was there that he had a blood screening and found out that something was wrong with his blood count.

“I recommend (the health fairs) for all people,” Laws said. “I think they are great.”

Thursday marked the seventh Heart Fair at Boone Hospital. Despite wintry conditions, by 11:00 a.m. more than 300 people had walked through the glass hallway over ice-covered Broadway.

“The bad weather doesn’t seem to be keeping people away,” nurse Beth Alpers said. “I think that proves the quality of this service.”

The Heart Fair offered information on topics such as sleep, diabetic shoes, cholesterol screenings and the ever-popular free back and neck massages.

A sleep booth, which seemed to be out of place at a heart fair, was full of information that was surprisingly related to the heart.

“Sleep apnea can lead to heart problems,” said Daniel Custer, supervisor of neurodiagnostic services at the hospital. “Sleep is just as important as fitness and nutrition.”

Custer felt that this fair was a great thing for the community.

“It gives them information that they may not know and gives us the chance to get information out,” Custer said.

There were also a number of booths dedicated to diabetes information and supplies, such as shoes.

“A lot of diabetics are heart patients,” said Robin Wilson, a physical therapist, “We are showing them how to care for their feet and things to watch for,”

The free health screenings were also a hit among fair goers.

Eugenia Operisanu, a 68-year-old retired school teacher and a first-time visitor to the fair, had a cholesterol screening.

“I think its very informative,” Operisanu said. “Some of the information we already know but we all need to be reminded of sometimes.”

Ken Wilkerson, a 65-year-old landscaper and part-time driver has attended the fair every year.

“It hasn’t changed much over the years, but it has gotten more popular,” said Wilkerson, “It’s a good way to keep up with your health if you don’t have a regular physician to go to.”


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