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Thu., Sep. 3
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Health fair informs St. Lawrence County residents of medical choices


CANTON — St. Lawrence County residents could have saved thousands of dollars in medical testing and received information on affordable health care at a Healthy Living Festival on Sunday at SUNY Canton.

“There are so many free and low-cost service programs in our county that people don’t know about,” said Michele P. Catlin, a community outreach coordinator at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Ogdensburg. “We try to encourage people to become better self-managers of their health care. It’s important to get those yearly tests.”

To make that easier, Claxton-Hepburn offered free tests for blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol and glucose.

“It takes about two-and-a-half minutes altogether, just a finger stick,” Mrs. Catlin said. “Everyone should know their numbers.”

Representatives of Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Potsdam, were also at the fair in SUNY Canton’s Athletic Center, offering free testing in bone density, balance using a Wii, blood pressure and glucose and a demonstration of mobile pulmonary function equipment.

“We go to six to eight health fairs throughout the year,” said Lyndsay L. Macagg, a volunteer and community relations coordinator.

Sunday’s festival was organized by Community Broadcasters, which thought it important to show residents how to make fun and healthful choices in their lives.

“This whole area has so many health issues that could be addressed,” said General Manager Kevin R. Keefe. “We thought we’d give it a shot.”

Attendance at the health fair was sparse, but organizers attributed that to an event-packed weekend in the county and the fact it was the festival’s first year.

“It’s worth trying again,” said Ruth A. Fishbeck, executive director of the county Health Initiative. “There’s a lot of competition for people’s time and interest.”

A group of children huddled around the Health Initiative’s table, where they made their own hula hoops from PVC tubing, plumbing connectors and colored duct tape.

Other vendors offered information on medical services, clinics, vision testing and other health-related activities. The American Red Cross ran a bloodmobile.

Richard E. Fisher, Lisbon, came to see what alternatives to traditional medicine were available.

“I think there’s a lot of things holistic medicine can do for you,” he said.

The health fairs get the word out about free antibiotics and diabetes medications at Price Chopper pharmacies and $4 prescriptions at Walmart, along with free hospital screenings for breast and skin cancers and vascular disease, Mrs. Catlin said.

Claxton-Hepburn, for example, received a grant to provide free colonoscopies for up to 20 people with a family history of colon cancer who do not have health insurance, said Mrs. Catlin, who can be reached at 713-5250.

“We are one of the unhealthiest counties in the state. We have the third highest rate of colorectal cancer,” she said. “We know why. People aren’t getting screened.”

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