The Lee Medical Building on the campus of the University of South Dakota was a busy place last Saturday, Feb. 8, as it served as host of the 13th annual Community Health Fair.

The event, a joint effort between Sanford Vermillion and the University of South Dakota, offered more than free health screenings of everything from blood pressure and blood sugar to body fat, and body mass index analyses.

Visitors to the fair had over 40 booths they could visit, offering educational material and one-on-one advice on everything from antibiotic stewardship and vision screening to physical therapy, occupational therapy, lung education and hearing screenings.

Sanford heart screenings, 3D mammography and cervical screening were also offered at the health fair. Visitors also couldn’t miss Sanford’s giant inflatable colon used to emphasize the importance of colo-rectal screenings.

“We have over 40 vendors,” said Rachel Olson, Student Health and Ancillary Service Director of Sanford Vermillion Medical Center, Vermillion.”New this year is we did some presentations, such as one on all of the ages that you need to do colorectal, pap smears, mammograms and tests like that. We also had a presentation on opioid education and antibiotic stewardship -- we involved the nursing program on some of those to try to get the word out on those services.”

Outside the Lee Medical Building, local law enforcement and the Vermillion Fire EMS Department were involved in their competitive blood drive known as Heroes Behind The Badges -- a competition to see which department can recruit the most blood donors for the community’s blood supply.

“The law enforcement and the fire department have been trying to up their donations to reach a goal of 100 lives saved,” Olson said.

A “Kookin’ With The Kids” event at the medical school also drew a full house, offering young people tips on healthy eating and snacks led by Mary Auch, dietician at Sanford Vermillion.

“We partner with the Health Affairs Program (at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine), so we have a variety of students participating from such programs as physical therapy, occupational therapy, physician’s assistants, dental hygiene and nursing,” Olson said. “Part of this (the health fair) is for them to be able to get hands-on experience with the community and Sanford Vermillion supplements it. We open it up to community vendors to be able to share their information.”

Community participants included the local Lions Club, which conducted its Kidsight vision screening.

“We love to be able to do those kids screenings,” Olson said. “And, we had a Girl Scout troop come through, so we had about 50 of them here. Cookie sales were last week, so they were available today to spend the morning with us for a couple hours.”

Organizers were happy to see a steady stream of visitors at the fair.

“We understand that Saturdays are a busy time for everybody,” Olson said, “and we’re happy that the weather cooperated. I think what people sometimes don’t realize is how much there is to do. If you’re only planning to spend an hour, you might only get through the booths on the first floor; you might not make it to the second floor.

“I think to really to go through it all you may need to spend two hours,” she said. “New this year is exhale wellness -- they have an oxygen bar going on down there. There’s also a lot of education, too, this year on antibiotic stewardship, opioid use and vaping. We’re trying to bring some focus on those areas this year.”


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