By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
In October 2009, for the first time in nearly a decade, Liberal was home to a community health fair. That event was quite successful, according to its coordinators.
In October of this year, the Activity Center played host to a health fair, and Elizabeth Irby of the Seward County Health Department and Nancy Kletecka of Southwest Medical Center said the 2010 edition of the health fair continued to grow from last year.
“We increased our number of people that came through just by our blood draws,” Irby said at Monday’s Seward County Commission meeting. “In 2009, we saw 494. This year, we saw 515. The health department last year, we took part in drawing blood with the hospital lab due to influenza vaccine not being available because of H1N1.”
Irby said seasonal flu vaccines were not given at last year’s fair.
“We were drawing blood, and then we were doing H1N1 vaccines after that,” she said. “This year, we did administer flu vaccine, and we gave 59 flu vaccines.”
Irby said while this figure was not great, the number of other places in the community to get a flu shot had to be taken into account.
“That’s great,” she said. “We want everybody vaccinated. As long as they’re going to whatever venue – a doctor’s office, a pharmacy, the health department – they’re getting it done, and that’s what we want to see to keep our community healthy.”
Kletecka said 2009’s health fair was the first in Liberal in seven or eight years, and the growth of the event can be seen over time.
“I was told back then they had 20 some vendors and maybe 150, 200 people go through,” she said. “Last year, we had more than 60 vendors, and we had more than 600 people come through. That’s quite a big difference. This year, we raised that again. This is only our second year, and we had more than 70 vendors, and we had an estimated 600 to 700 go through. In just the two years we’ve been doing it together, it has grown already.”
Kletecka said the health fair is a joint effort, and it is not just the hospital and health department who work together to make the event possible.
“There were several entities involved,” she said. “There were several businesses and individuals involved who donated time and money to make it happen.”
Because of donations, Kletecka said testing at the fair was available for just $25.
“That means the people who came through there got $700 to $800 worth of tests for $25,” she said. “We had several people who were referred on for further testing from that. If we’ve saved even one life, I feel like we’ve accomplished our goal, and we’re looking forward to next year being even bigger and better.”