Women 4 Wellness health fair returns
PABLO — The Women 4 Wellness event returned last Thursday to the Salish Kootenai College for the first time since the start of COVID-19 and saw great attendance from vendors and visitors alike.
With 83 tables set up in the Joe McDonald Health and Fitness Center, the one-day event provided numerous free health screenings and educational tables from organizations like Lake County Public Health Department, Tribal Health, St. Luke Hospital and many more. The over 30 screenings available included bone density ultrasounds, immunizations, mental health services, breast exams, cervical screenings, thyroid gland examinations, glucose screenings, chiropractic screenings, and vision screenings, all of which could be costly to have done elsewhere. Even businesses like Dillard’s attended to offer bra fittings, and a Tupperware representative spoke about healthy food options.
New to this year’s health event was the National Autoimmune Organization that travelled from Clinton Township in Michigan to bring awareness to autoimmune conditions and provide educational materials, as well as resources for patient and caregiver support. Also new this year was Smiles Across Montana, which provides high quality dental services, education, and community outreach with a team of dentists and hygienists traveling throughout the state to offer preventative dental services.
“There’s lots of availability for a lot of good stuff in there,” volunteer Margaret Fanning said. “I think it’s a wonderful event for women, children, families … giving the community an opportunity to take care of themselves is wonderful.”
The health fair got its start around 2008, with the mission of helping women and men become involved in their health care and to help them take the steps necessary to live healthy lives by focusing on health education and disease prevention through collaboration with local hospitals, medical clinics, and CSKT tribal services throughout our Western Montana corridor. Coordinated by the Center for Prevention and Wellness Director Kellie Hudson and Eleanor Vizcarra, they explained that volunteers from family practice physicians and specialists, nurse practitioners, medical students, and so many more are who make the event happen.
“We would not be able to offer this big health event without the generosity of the Salish Kootenai College, sponsors in Lake County, and other Montana state services,” Vizcarra commented.
With the ability for anyone to walk in and get screenings at low or no cost and waiting a few minutes for some of the more popular booths, Women 4 Wellness became the annual checkup for many attendees.
The fair had to be put on hold due to COVID-19 in 2020, though SKC did what it could to continue to provide health screenings with smaller, outdoor health fairs in the years since. However, with a full return to form this year the turnout nearly reached pre-COVID numbers, indicating it had been well missed by the community.
“People have said they’re really glad that it’s back, especially after COVID,” Payton Dupuis shared. “It’s really nice to see the community come together, from Kalispell down to Missoula.”
“You know how many of the generations I’ve seen? Grandkids, mothers, grandmothers … So many people I haven’t seen for years (coming here), it’s super touching,” nurse Nich’e LaRocque commented. “I’ve spent most of my adult life away from here and so to see all the people that I haven’t seen for so long in together, it’s awesome.”
The Women 4 Wellness fair will return again next May. To learn more about the event, visit: https://w4w.skc.edu