Indiana Black Expo health fair offers vital free checkups

Carrie Harris has not had a health checkup since the previous INShape Black and Minority Health Fair last July and she will be back again next year.

The 55-year-old currently does not have a job and cannot afford health insurance or her own doctor. She is completely reliant on the fair to receive an annual health screening.

“I’ve signed up for everything,” she said with a wide smile.

“I attended the first ever Black Expo when it opened when I was 10 years old, so it’s a very special event for me.”

Lab technician Kiba Oakley of Mid America Clinical Laboratories has worked at the fair every year for the past 10 years.

She said that each year, without fail, she sees many familiar faces at the One Stop, One Stick station. Oakley tests people for a number of health issues — glucose levels, blood pressure and cholesterol to name a few — and some loyal attendees request to specifically be served by her every year.

“It is so rewarding,” Oakley said.

“Some people have come all the way from Ohio or Illinois, especially for the health fair. This annual event is really important to people, especially for those who don’t have health insurance.”

Held in conjunction with the Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration, the health fair will line the Indiana Convention Center halls with stalls offering $1,500 worth of free health screenings. These include HIV tests, clinical breast examinations, eye tests, dental screenings and kidney function tests.

New to this year’s event is a walking track inside the perimeter of the hall to highlight the importance of fitness for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. There are many health and fitness-oriented activities available to both adults and kids, including a skipping rope station, dancing, education sessions and cooking demonstrations.

Indianapolis resident Lew Fields said the health fair came at a perfect time, as he is currently under care. He had a health checkup recently but wanted to use this as an opportunity to confirm that the results were consistent with those from his doctor.

“It’s awfully good to have this offered here for free every year,” the 64-year-old said.

“African Americans tend to be prone to having high blood pressure and cholesterol and diabetes. They’re all pretty silent in that there are not a lot of symptoms to help catch the problem early, before it creates further complications.”

Seniors Night on Thursday gave the older members of the community and those with disabilities the opportunity to receive their health screenings without having to fight the crowds that are expected over the weekend.

Office of Minority Health director Antoinette Holt of the Indiana State Department of Health said door-to-door transportation to and from the event was provided to all of those who registered in advance of Thursday.

“We had close to 400 people who received this service, which was more than last year,” Holt said.The health fair is expected to attract more than 20,000 people of all ages and will run to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Originally published at Indianapolis StarUSA Today, The Arizona RepublicDetroit Free PressThe Tennessean or Democrat & Chronicle.

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About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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