Sanders County Ledger - Your Best Source For Sanders County News

By Ed Moreth 

CFVH reaches out with health fair

Annual event provides health info, screenings


October 22, 2020

Ed Moreth

OUCH! – Registered Nurse Colleen Boyer administers a flu shot to Marion Jolin of Plains at the Clark Fork Valley Hospital Health Fair at the VFW hall. Boyer gave eight shots during the health fair.

Keeping people healthy is key to the Clark Fork Valley Hospital, even at a health fair, which is why organizers took special precautions at last week's annual event held at the VFW in Plains.

The number of attendees entering the building was limited to 15 at a time. All received a temperature check, hand sanitizer, and a surgical mask at the door, and saw social distancing reminders throughout the room during the Clark Fork Valley Hospital Health Fair last Thursday. They also received a goodie bag, which included lip balm, a healthy snack, sanitizer and the hospital's annual report.

"I feel that in the course of the pandemic, the fear has kept the community in a state of many different emotions because the new normal is causing a lot of anxiety, confusion and fear," said Janie Hom, the hospital's Community Health Improvement specialist and coordinator for the six-hour event. "I am hopeful that having this health fair will be a good opportunity to reach out to the community to show them that we care and want to offer them the education for their health and well-being. So many events have been canceled due to the pandemic, so I wanted to give them a sense of normalcy during this stressful time as this event is something they look forward to annually," said Hom. 

This is the first year for Hom to run the event and the first time to hold the event at the VFW. It has been held at Plains School the last two years, but because of Covid 19, the school is not allowing many outside visitors. This year is also the first time since it began five years ago that it is not just a woman's health fair, even though of the estimated 50 people in attendance, only a handful of men showed up. "I want the community to know that we care about the entire community and not just women," said Hom. Vendors felt there were more people in attendance than last year, she said. 

There were 17 tables with a variety goods and information at this year's fair. Clark Fork Valley Hospital had three tables, including one with Registered Nurse Colleen Boyer, who administered eight flu shots. One of their tables had information about diabetes education and testing and did 30 glucose screenings. Hom had her own table with her "Journey To Wellness" information and paraphernalia. She's been a wellness coach for three months. The program, which was provided to Clark Fork Valley Hospital through a federal government Health Resources and Services Administration grant, deals with a myriad of means to improve a person's health - strength, physical activity, nutrition, sleep, spirituality, and even healthy thoughts. At Hom's table, people had the opportunity to use a "Micro Smokerlyzer" to get the carbon in their lungs tested. In addition, they had the chance to check their muscle might with Hom's "grip strength" with a hydraulic hand dynamometer, where a person clenched the device as hard as they could, and based on age and gender, it provided a good gauge of a person's strength, said Hom, who will start another coaching session Jan 12-13. Anyone interested in the program can contact her at the hospital at 826-4669.

She hopes to get more vendors for next year's health fair that had not participated before. She said she liked having it at the VFW hall because she said it felt more personal than the large school gymnasium. "Visitors seemed positive about the event and enjoyed the education and screenings available. Some also came specifically to get their flu vaccine," said Hom, who plans to coordinate the event again next year. The hospital also gave away bottled water and apples and had door prizes ranging in value from $20-$40.

All but one of the vendors were from Sanders County, including three tables from the county's Public Health Department. Sandra Gubel, the county's Tobacco Control and Prevention specialist, who had an anti-smoking information booth. Gubel also let people know about the Nov. 19 Great American Smokeout, which she said will challenge tobacco users to quit for one day. She said those interested in getting information can contact her in Room 102 at the courthouse or call 827-6901. Montana State University student nurses Julianne Jones and Savanna Culver had data about the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Program and information on safe sleep for babies. There was also a county table about disaster preparedness, manned by Registered Nurse Jill Lundstrom.

This was the first time for Plains Drug Store, owned by Justin and Andi Holmes, to take part in the health fair. It was also the first for Jill Hermes Massage Therapy. Massage therapy is one of the main cures for anxiety and stress, said Hermes, whose been a licensed massage therapist for nine years. "Getting a massage should be part of your health routine," said Hermes. "It's not for everyone, but it should be," she said.

For the second year, Donna Maughlin of Plains volunteered at an information booth on the International Heart Institute of St. Patrick Hospital. It was the third year for Jennifer Hafner and her "Young Living" health line of essential oils, healthy snacks, toothpaste, and make-up. Her 16-year-old daughter, Anna, helped at the table and plans to set up her own distribution line. Both took turns at the grip strength and tested above average.

Not all of the booths were directly health related. The Plainly Speaking Toastmasters Club and the Plains Woman's Club have both participated in the health fair, as they had done in previous years. The Cancer Network of Sanders County was also on hand, providing information about their nonprofit organization, taking donations, and selling their "Save the Boobies" T-shirts. "We sell more of these to men than women," said Kathy Miller, the group's secretary/treasurer. The CNSC's new president, Shelley Bertrand, and vice president, Sherryl Wachob, also manned their table. 

Cindy Thomas of the Plainly Speaking Toastmasters Club had snacks and 100 riddles, although no one had been able to come up with the right riddle answer. The club has been represented at all five years of the health fair. Thomas said public speaking can be indirectly related to a person's health because for some people it is a stressful experience. "The more a person is comfortable with speaking off the top of their head, the more comfortable they'll be in any social situation," said Thomas, who said the club has about 15 members, meets regularly, and is looking for new members. Anyone interested in joining the club can call Roni Mitch, the club's vice president of education, at 546-0479.

Hom felt the health fair went well, considering the pandemic, but she hopes to get more vendors and more people to attend next year. In conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the hospital also had free mammograms and screened 15 women on Oct. 15 at the hospital.  "It's extremely important that we educate our community so they have awareness about their health and what our vendors and Clark Fork Valley Hospital has to offer them," she said.     


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