This year’s annual Health and Wellness Fair, co-sponsored by USC’s Health Sciences Campus, will feature a host of new organizations and partnerships that organizers expect significantly increased participation.
The HSC annually partners with the East Los Angeles Occupational Center to offer information and health screens to local residents. This year, Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huizar and the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles are joining in putting on the fair, to be held at the Occupational Center, across the street from the HSC.
The fair will include more than 50 booths, up from 18 last year, offering information and health screenings for various issues, including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and cancer. Bienvenidos (a drug prevention program), the Braille Institute, the AIDS Research Alliance, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center and Planned Parenthood are among the many newcomers.
“We had a whole year to think it through,” said Cesar Armendariz, community outreach director for HSC. “The Mexican Consulate introduced us to new partners, so that helped. Part of [the growth] is us reaching out, part of it is partnering with the Mexican Consulate.”
USC assisted with another health fair organized by the Consulate earlier, Armendariz said, which helped spark the union. The Consulate’s involvement was also one of the reasons Huizar got involved, according to a spokesman from his office.
With the new partnerships and increased number and diversity of organizations, organizers are expecting a turnout near 1,000. Last year, only about 250 people attended, according to Armendariz, but this year that same number of people will be there just to work the event.
Though the fair provides health screenings and immunizations, Armendariz said the informational booths also play an important role.
“It’s about wellness as well,” Armendariz said. “The sheriff’s department will be educating kids about bike safety, and the fire department will also be there educating people about fire safety. [Information will] run the gamut.”
The East Los Angeles Occupational Center puts on other, smaller events year-round, but this is the largest fair they are involved in.
“[The fair] brings out all the community and raises awareness about things people hear about,” said Occupational Center staff member Adriana Sanchez. “People can bring prescriptions and talk to pharmacists and get medical opinions.”
The fair also provides a hands-on learning experience for a number of students. About 100 USC pharmacy students will be conducting the majority of the health screenings, and cosmetology students from the East Los Angeles Occupational Center will be helping seniors, who will be transported to the fair via USC trams, with manicures and make-up.
“Going to health fairs made me realize you don’t have to be a pharmacist to help people,” said second year pharmacy student Michelle Vu. “Pharmacy students do so much for the community already, especially in Los Angeles. People should go because it’s [completely] free. Patients get screened and pharmacy students practice their counseling skills and put knowledge to action.”
The fair is also a festive occasion. There will be activities for kids, musical performances and an appearance by Bravo Medical Magnet High School’s marching band, which is expected to encourage an increase in turnout. Mostly, however, the fair is aimed at providing health services to those who might not otherwise have access to healthcare.
“It’s a chance for people in the community, especially those with low income and without health insurance, to get some critical screenings,” Armendariz said. “People of any age group can come and benefit from the fair.”