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Health fair to increase health center awareness

Nicole Inglis

If you go

What: "Caring for Kids" health fair

When: 1 to 5 p.m. today

Where: Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, 745 Russell St.

Cost: Several health services and children's entertainment offered at no charge.

A year ago, the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association qualified as a Community Health Center.

Now, the VNA is using that qualification, and the funding that comes with it, to provide care to the medically underserved, and more specifically, preventative care for children.

In celebration of nationally recognized National Health Center Week, the VNA will offer a health fair called “Caring for Kids,” from 1 to 5 p.m. today, which will include free school physicals, sports physicals, well-child visits and immunizations.

Medicaid eligibility and enrollment, vision screenings, dental screenings and mental health screenings also will be available at no charge.

Today’s clinic and health fair is designed to educate the community about the care and services Craig’s only community health center offers.

“We need to make the health center be known,” health center director Gisela Garrison said. “We’ve already realized there is a big need for pediatric care in the community. Primary care doctors just cannot take care of all of the kids before school starts.”

Because children might have to wait for their turn at the clinic, the VNA will provide indoor and outdoor activities for entertainment.

Inside stations for coloring and face painting will be set up.

Outdoors, children can enjoy physical activities such as hula hooping, hopscotch, jump rope and Frisbee games.

Educational opportunities for parents on the Woman, Infants and Children program, Medicaid, and pediatric care will be offered with a Spanish interpreter on hand.

Garrison said visitors should bring necessary school forms or insurance information if possible. All co-pays will be waived, however.

“We are very excited,” Garrison said.

Because of the back-to-school rush, Garrison anticipates today’s free clinic to be busy like any other weekday in August.

She said she was giving immunizations in her office Tuesday because of a lack of free exam rooms.

With $300,000 in recent federal grants, the VNA soon will begin a renovation that will double the number of exam rooms so more patients can be seen.

“Right now, we’re building towards serving more clients,” she said. “Ideally, we’d have two rooms for each medical provider.”

Currently, they barely have one, she said.

But she said the number of patients is a good thing, because community health centers aim for preventative care.

“That’s why things like well-child visits are so important,” she said. “If people get regular care, overall society won’t spend as much on health care.”

The VNA will not deny anyone service because they lack the money, health insurance or documentation.

“Our job is to reach out to those who might not otherwise find care,” Garrison said.


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