Free Healthcare Fair: St. Ann City, MO
“Health is the foundation on which human life rests. There is no greater wealth than health. What is the origin of this word 'Health'? It is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word 'Heilig ', meaning that which is sacred and pure.” ~ Sathya Sai Baba, Divine Discourse "Unity is Divinity", 20 Nov 1998.
Sixteen years have rolled by since the first free health fair organized by the Sathya Sai Centers in the Greater St. Louis area, was held at the sacred premises of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in St. Louis, MO in 2003. What started on a small scale, providing a few general health check-ups, has now expanded into an annual event offering a comprehensive range of more than thirty health services targeted at the health of the body, mind and spirit. The venue was also relocated in 2012 to the Holy Trinity Church-Parish Center, in St. Ann City in St. Louis County.
The free health fair this year was held on Oct 8th 2018 at the Holy Trinity Church serving more than 185 attendees, including 79 children. On hand to provide healthcare services were 32 medical and paramedical professionals representing a wide range of specialties: 13 doctors, 2 dentists to provide dental cleaning and exams, 2 psychologists to address mental health issues, an audiologist for hearing tests, an optometrist for eye check-up, a pharmacist, a physical therapist to address issues of posture and chronic back ache, 2 nutritionists for dietary issues, a nurse practitioner, 3 nurses, 2 respiratory technicians and 3 lab technicians. Medical and paramedical volunteers were recruited through extensive networking with several local hospitals and community health centers: Cardinal Glennon Hospital for Children, St. Louis University Cancer Center, St. Louis University Hospital, De Paul Health Center, St. Louis Eye Clinic, St. Louis County Public Health, Casa de Salud (a sliding scale clinic for low-income patients) and Walgreens Pharmacy. Students in training and faculty were also present from the Physical Therapy Department of Maryville University and the Department of Audiology of Southern Illinois University.
As the church was located in a predominantly Hispanic community, there were also 58 Spanish-speaking interpreters on hand to assist. The interpreters were drawn from various organizations such as the Monsanto Latin Network, All Access Interpreters, Language Access Multicultural People (LAMP) and the Latino Medical Students Association in Washington University. There were also 75 non-medical volunteers comprised of Sai Center members and Sai Spiritual Education students aged 14 years and older, who worked to ensure the health fair ran smoothly. The Community Action Agency of St. Louis County, a social service organization and the American Red Cross in St. Louis were also present.
The health services provided was comprehensive, extending beyond general health check-up to include preventive health education from relaxation training using breath awareness to physical fitness and nutrition, behavioral health services and household pet care. A new service offered was Physical Therapy to teach good posture and balance and ways to alleviate chronic low back ache. Behavioral health issues of depression, drug and alcohol addictions were addressed through a screening tool that attendees were asked to complete. Psychologists assessed the attendee’s responses and followed up with appropriate referral as needed. Breath awareness relaxation training for relieving stress was also widely welcomed by the attendees. The St. Louis County Pet Adoption Center brought in pet dogs to introduce attendees to the value of having pets as a form of therapy. In addition, various health and human values booth displayed how the steadfast practice of human values promotes physical and mental health.
By the end of the fair, 81 attendees had received free flu shots, 15 women were registered for mammograms, 58 children were safely fitted with bicycle helmets and 13 infant car seats that were found defective were replaced. Attendees also received many freebees including reading glasses, dental hygiene kits, first aid kits, sports balls and goody bags for children containing pencils, crayons and coloring books. A talk on the importance of saving the earth by recycling was conveyed by 10K Pencils organizers, who gave away recycled pencils and crayons. Each attendee at this health fair also received a lunch bag containing a vegetarian Subway sandwich, chips, apple and water. All attendees were given a list of free clinics and clinics offering a sliding scale fee to take home with them for follow up care.
The health care team was extremely loving and worked in unity. Despite the hot and humid weather, everyone diligently stayed till the very end and carried out their duties with a spirit of sacrifice, some even forgoing their lunch. At the end of the health camp, the overcast sky with dark clouds which seemed to wait patiently for this moment, burst into heavy down pour of rains. We thought it was indeed blessings from heaven for the healthcare team and the attendees at the health fair.