Health fair offers help for Hispanics, Latinos

Sandra Neri brought three children to Century II on Saturday, not for a concert, but for physical exams and health screenings.

Her daughter, Brisa Del Campo, 6, sat in a chair in the Via Christi Health booth having her blood drawn, while two sisters looked on and Neri had her blood pressure checked.

Neri, through an interpreter, said her blood pressure was fine. They’d have to wait on the results of her daughter’s blood test, she said.

They were among the estimated 2,400 people who attended the Hispanic/Latino Health and Wellness Fair on Saturday. This was the first time the fair was held, but organizers plan to continue it because it provided low-cost, and free, medical and health services to an underserved community.

“The Spanish community in Wichita has about 90,000 folks, and two-thirds of them are under the age of 30, so that means they have families,” said Dan Oropesa, president and CEO of Spanish Media Group. “We just wanted to help people with families on their medical expenses.”

Oropesa put on the event with Abel Perez, president of Synergic Resources LLC and former executive director of the Wichita Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

A language barrier for Spanish-speaking people creates hurdles to seeking health services, Oropesa said.

More than 100 booths were set up at the event. Local health-related businesses, hospitals, clinics and government organizations offered information, demonstrations and goodies for kids.

They screened for diabetes, performed back-to-school physical exams and gave immunizations. They also offered dental, vision and hearing screenings, as well as bone-density tests.

Wesley Medical Center offered physicals and free blood-pressure screenings. The hospital was pleased to get involved in the Hispanic community, said Paul Petite, executive vice president of marketing and public relations.

“You can’t ignore a growing population, and the Hispanic influence that you see in Wichita,” he said. “It’s good for us as a community hospital to be in the center of all that. Anything we can do to help and make sure that the people that visit here have a relationship with a physician, have a primary-care physician, that’s our ultimate goal.”

Via Christi Health offered free blood-pressure screenings, low-cost blood tests and information from its clinicians.

Mary Medina, an advanced practice nurse in Via Christi’s Heart Failure Clinic, said she found a pattern in the fairgoers who visited with her.

“A lot of people have diabetes and don’t know the relation between diabetes and high blood pressure,” she said. “Trying to make sure they have somebody that’s following them is really important. High blood pressure and diabetes are not a good thing together because they can lead to blocked blood vessels. People don’t have a good understanding of what blood pressure is and how to treat it.”

One middle-aged man who visited with her looked great – thin and fit – but he told her that he had stopped taking blood-pressure medication six years ago because he was tired of it, she said. He’d already had one bypass operation, and she had to tell him he was heading toward another one.

She urged him to see his doctor.