ALBANY, Ga. -- In acknowledgment of Cinco de Mayo, there is an outreach effort taking place officials at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, as well as in other places, say is part of a movement to help those who might have limited access to health care services.
Morningside United Methodist Church and Phoebe are planning to bring dancing, food and fun into the day of Mexican heritage and pride celebration through a health fair catered to the Latino population on May 5.
The event will take place at the church, located at 121 S. Mock Road, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
There will be screenings for hearing, diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol -- which are planned to end at 11 a.m. There will be a Zumba instructor on site, vendors to help families sign up for health insurance as well as food and children's entertainment, officials said.
Lidia Olds, one of the coordinators of the event, being of Costa Rican descent, has seen what happens when a Spanish-speaking community is not always connected to the proper health care resources.
"We want to make sure the Spanish (speaking) community is aware of services offered to them," she said. "They don't always take advantage (of these services)."
On that vein, she said the health fair should serve as a good educational opportunity -- as well as a chance to get to know the rest of Albany's Spanish-speaking residents. In making sure it is open to everyone in the Latino community, Olds said coordinators have been working to promote the event through the area's churches as well as other venues.
"We hope to be able to reach people and that they know what it is all about," she said. "(The Latino community doesn't) go to the doctor much because they don't have insurance, or because they are afraid to. It is good for them to know about screenings.
"(Latinos also) eat a lot of fried food, so they need to know that they need to take of their bodies. We want to focus this (health fair) on being healthy."
Darrell Sabbs, community benefits coordinator for Phoebe, shares a similar view by saying the fair is a way to help bridge gaps with those who sometimes tend not to be so close to the health care system to ensure small health concerns don't turn into bigger ones.
"We work hard to reach the hard to reach," he said. "We go outside the walls of the hospital and not wait for others to come in.
"We go upstream and reach out to those with challenges. It makes sense because it prevents rushes to the emergency room."
Officials say this is the second year the health fair has been conducted. Last year, there were roughly 200 people that came.
"We expect to do that if not better," Sabbs said.
Dr. Augusto Soltero, a family and sports medicine specialist based at Phoebe Family Care Center on Dawson Road, will be the guest speaker during the lunch. His presentation will be ""El Ejercicio es Medicina," designed to focus on the benefits of exercise in living a healthy lifestyle.
Soltero is a graduate of Central del Caribe School of Medicine. He completed his residency at Mayo Clinic, and his fellowship at Phoebe.
Officials say they are welcoming vendors as well as volunteers who can cater to the Spanish-speaking community to help with the event. For more information, call Sabbs at (229) 312-7121.