MIAMI — Children generally don’t enjoy going to the doctor for an asthma test or other important health related testing. Throw in face painting, clowns, food, music and prizes and distain can turn into excitement, as when hundreds of children took advantage of National Health Center Week festivities held by Community Health of South Florida Inc. (CHI).
The five events were packed with people and insightful information for everyone. The week kicked off with the Henry Schein Family Health Awareness Fair, to which parents brought their children for entertainment and, most importantly, a variety of medical testing at CHI’s Doris Ison Health Center, 10300 S.W. 216th St. in Miami.
Hot105 radio did a live remote from the health center featuring host Rodney Baltimore. People heard the message and came to see what all the buzz was about. “This is a lot of fun,” said Renee Gonzalez. “I brought my children to get free backpacks and I didn’t realize that we were in for all of this. I’m not going to be able to get them to leave!” From there the fun moved to the Everglades Housing Complex in Florida City with more food, fun and health screenings.
CHI also put on a special health fair for the homeless and those in transition at the Verde Gardens Apartments Community Center — a joint effort with the Chapman Partnership for the Homeless, Camillus House and Citrus Network, Inc. More than 80 families attended and took advantage of much needed free HIV/AIDS testing, glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure screenings. Congressman Joe Garcia and his staff also joined in the successful event.
A health care forum and luncheon entertained and informed at the Miami Dade Cultural Center, as mariachi strummed a tune drawing the crowd into the auditorium. There, a surprise visit from a President Barack Obama impersonator amused the crowd.
That all led up to an informational panel discussion on the Affordable Care Act. Col. Brodes Hartley Jr., CHI president and CEO, offered insight on the federal health care law, and said he expects the number of patients to possibly double under the Affordable Health Care law. Janet Perkins, executive director for the Miami-Dade Office of Health Care Planning, also sat on the panel and spoke about how the plan would work and how it would affect everyone. State Rep. Kionne McGhee spoke about the issue from a legislative level.
“Events like this give people valuable information,” said Hartley. “It brings a complicated issue like the Affordable Care Act into an understandable and interesting format for everyone.”
The grand finale wrapped up health center week at Southland Mall’s Back to School Health Fair. CHI organized dozens of vendors and health screening booths to line the hallways of the mall. Meanwhile children participated in a magic show and enjoyed other entertainment.
“We pulled off a week of successful enriching events,” said Hartley. “It makes me proud to know that we were able to impact the community and help so many. This is part of what will be a constant effort to reach out to those in the community and empower them to take charge of their own healthcare.”