Phoebe Putney to host health fair on Saturday

ALBANY -- October is often highlighted by Halloween decorations, carved pumpkins and children dressed as ghosts and goblins collecting candy.

However, for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, this time of year has added meaning.

In recognition of breast cancer awareness month, the hospital will be hosting its annual Women's Health Conference from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Phoebe HealthWorks.

"We do this as a celebration for women's health and breast cancer awareness," said Darrell Sabbs, community benefits coordinator at Phoebe. "We are celebrating courage, commitment and the role that women play as gatekeepers of health."

Free health screenings will be provided, including cholesterol, BMI, blood pressure and diabetes. There will also be physician-led workshops, cooking demonstrations and entertainment. Vendors will also be on hand for things such as makeovers, smoking cessation and exercise opportunities.

The guest speaker for the event will be author Mary Jane Holt, whose book, "Malignant EMOTION," will benefit the Breast Cancer Survivors Network. Holt retired early from a nursing career in 1986 and began writing a weekly newspaper column. Two years later, she started a community health magazine, which she published for 12 years.

Holt grew up in Albany, where she attended nursing school. She now resides in Gay.

More than 700 people turned out for last year's event, bringing in women from their early 20s into their 80s. With the conference going into its sixth year, and experiencing growth each year, officials expect a positive response again this year.

"When women come to events like this, they stay," Sabbs said. "They love the fellowship. It's almost spiritual; they are very diligent about their participation in it."

What is also encouraging is the long term impact for those that participate, Sabbs said.

"The most important thing is what you do after (the conference)," he explained.

Phoebe has partnered with the American Cancer Society, Phoebe's Carlton Breast Health Center, Peach State Health Plan, 100 Black Men, Georgia Department of Community Health and Phoebe Cancer Center, among other organizations, to create breast cancer awareness and provide preventative health measures.

"Phoebe does it because its important for us to go upstream for community health," Sabbs said.

The health screenings at the event will take place from 8 a.m. to noon. Those participating in the cholesterol screening are required to fast starting at midnight the night before. The screenings are performed by clinicians at the event with the results mailed back to the participant's home in 10 days.

Phoebe HealthWorks is located at 311 Third Ave. The conference is free and open to the public.