Affordable Health Fair brings together community, front-line health care workers

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 | 1:36 p.m. CST; updated 1:42 p.m. CST, Wednesday, January 29, 2014

COLUMBIA — The Affordable Health Fair at Oak Towers on Wednesday night will give community members tips for staying healthy on a budget. 

The fair's focus is on the idea that health should be just as affordable as insurance. This includes teaching people about how salt can affect the heart, dietary recommendations, and where to find financial help for dental care. The Affordable Care Act will also be discussed. 

The fair, which will be held from 5:30-8 p.m. at Oak Towers, 700 N. Garth Ave., will also give people an opportunity to meet and talk to health care professionals. 

"We know that there are lots of changes for people who don't have insurance, people with Medicare and Medicaid," said Pat Kelley, vice president of Ridgeway Neighborhood Association, one of the event's sponsors. "We want people in our neighborhood to know the best options available." 

At 6 p.m., Nutrition & Health Education Specialist at University Extension, Vera Massey will present an overview of the Affordable Care Act. A panel of medical experts will be on hand to answer questions. 

"The panel will discuss physical, mental, and pharmaceutical changes that they have seen and the ways people can see it impact health and access to health care," Kelley said. 

Experts on the panel include Andrew Quint, M.D., medical director of Family Health Center; Jessica Pitera, community support supervisor of Burrell Behavioral Health; and Bill Morrissey, a pharmacist and co-owner of Kilgore's Medical Pharmacy.

"They are involved in a way that's really silent, so it is a way to find out what they know," Kelley said.

Following the presentation, the panelists will be on hand to answer questions and network. The Ridgeway Neighborhood Association will provide "healthy" desserts. 

Kelley said she has seen many people suffer with illness, unable to find treatment in the community.

"If we can address chronic pain, we can solve a lot of issues in our neighborhood. Knowing health care options can make a difference," Kelley said. 

The event is sponsored by Ridgeway Neighborhood Association, Ridgeway Missional Community-Karis Community Church, IMANI Mission Center, Columbia Climate Change Coalition and People's Visioning, Interfaith Care for Creation. 

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