9Health Fair attendance increases

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Pam Lathrop was first in line -- not for concert tickets, not for the latest craze in video game systems -- for a prick in the finger and vision screening.

She showed up at Sunset Elementary School shortly after 6 a.m. Saturday to be the first to enter the 9Health Fair.

"(I want) to get in and get out before it gets too bad," Lathrop said.

At 8 a.m., a line of people bundled in coats wrapped around the side of the school as Craig Lions Club members let just a few in at a time.

Event organizer Kristi Shep--herd said regulating the number of people in the building helps people move through quickly. And with more than 540 participants this year -- up from 485 last year -- moving people through the four-hour event is important.

"(The fair) went really well," Shepherd said. "People seemed to flow through it very well."

Standing in the chilly weather waiting to get in was worth it to Lathrop.

"When you don't have insurance, you gotta do what you gotta do," she said.

She was mostly interested in having her blood drawn to test for a number of conditions, a test she said would otherwise cost her $3,000 at a hospital. At the health fair, the test cost $30.

The fair also offered vision, hearing and mental health screenings, height and weight checks, glucose finger sticks, lung function and blood pressure tests and a chance to ask nurses and doctors health questions.

Channel 9 in Denver sponsors the health fairs throughout Colorado, and the Craig Lions Club organizes the one here. Volunteers from many other local organizations ran the booths and exams offered at the fair.

Loren Baysinger has attended the fairs for five or six years, and he appreciates the event because it reminds him to have an annual physical.

"It's good to keep informed on health issues," he said.

John Forgay knows the value of being informed. Health professionals detected his prostate cancer at the 9Health Fair in 1998.

Now he serves as a mental health volunteer at the fair, advocating for depression screenings. He suffers from depression and anxiety as a result of his cancer diagnosis.

Forgay said the most difficult part of the "stress test" offered to detect for the disorders is the stigma attached to mental health disorders. At the fair, many people would start to enter the room but turn around once they realized what the test was for.

Forgay said people recognize the need for physical health but are still hesitant about mental disorders.

"It's a real disease that can be treated," he said.

It's a message he hopes the health fair can help him send.

Shepherd said she hopes the message of healthy living is projected through the fair. She was pleased with this year's increased turnout and is looking forward to having even more people at next year's event.

Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 204, or mperry@craigdailypress.com.

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