Summer Health Fair event focuses on prevention and care

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Summer Health Fair event focuses on prevention and care

Story and photos by Robin Elisabeth Kilmer

Not everyone is happy to find out their blood pressure.

Altagracia Guzmán, however, was quite pleased with her results.

Councilmember Rodriguez (far left) stands together with members of the ACCESS Medicare team at the First Annual Summer Health Fair, of which he served as host.

Councilmember Rodriguez (far left) stands together with members of the ACCESS Medicare team at the First Annual Summer Health Fair, of which he served as host.

“The doctors asked me if I took pills. Never. I don’t take any medication. They were surprised. My pressure is better than many young peoples’,” said a smiling Guzmán, who is in her early eighties.

Community residents participated in health screenings and received information on preventive care.

Community residents participated in health screenings and received information on preventive care.

Guzmán, an activist and actress who has appeared in the feature films Raising Victor Vargas, I Heart Huckabees and Fighting, had not had her pressure screened in some time. But she got a chance this past Sun., Aug. 5th at the First Annual Summer Health Fair held on 175th Street between Audubon and St. Nicholas Avenues.

The event was hosted by New York City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez and co-sponsored by New York State Senator Adrian Espaillat, the American Cancer Society and several other organizations including ACCESS Medicare and Amsterdam Medical Practice.

“We have made a lot of improvements in our society, but when it comes to health, we have a lot of challenges. The most important thing that I would like to see happening is for our community to be educated,” said Councilmember Rodriguez, who also expressed his gratitude for all the partners, sponsors and participants.

The fair brought together community members, health care providers and organizations as well as several area doctors.

Many just enjoyed the day in the sun.

Many just enjoyed the day in the sun.

“Aside from getting people to get their screenings done, it’s good to educate them about what they’re getting screened about,” said Rosemary Perez-Bell, area resident and community mission manager for the American Cancer Society.

People discussed their health concerns.

Obesity, diabetes, and breast cancer were all identified as major problems.

Preventive care was cited repeatedly by those present as critical to maintaining one’s health.

“Dealing with how to educate our residents about prevention instead of waiting for the day they have to go to the emergency room is very important,” said Councilmember Rodriguez.

Jay Hirschhorn, owner of J’s Big Gym, urged physical fitness as one of the best ways to prevent trips to the emergency room. He and his wife Claire offered simple exercise tips.

“You can take a couple of soup cans and use them as weights to strengthen and tone your arms,” said Hirschhorn.

“Even more basic than that: Walk. Don’t drive,” said his wife Claire.

Rosemary Perez-Bell, community mission manager for the American Cancer Society and Dr. Pedro Taveras (left). “It’s good to educate [people],” said Perez-Bell.

Rosemary Perez-Bell, community mission manager for the American Cancer Society and Dr. Pedro Taveras (left). “It’s good to educate [people],” said Perez-Bell.

Back at the screening station Juan, a longtime resident, was waiting his turn to check his blood pressure.

“I’m a little nervous,” he admitted.

He said he was glad, however, for the opportunity to do so.

For more information on additional health screening opportunities and events in northern Manhattan, please call the office of Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez at 917.521.2616.