2011 Life and Soul Health Fair in Houston

Life and Soul Health Fair was conducted in the Houston Namadwaar on 13th of August 2011 and it received an overwhelming response from the community. Honorable Mayors, Ms. Delores Martin from Manvel and Mr. Tom Reid from Pearland were both present to kick off the event. Another notable personality present for the kick off was a Senior and renowned physician of Houston, Dr Venugopal Menon. Dr. Menon has played a key role in the Health Fairs conducted by Meenakshi Temple Society for the past several years. By the time the Mayors had arrived quite a few people had already signed up for testing. Both the Mayors were very appreciative of the efforts to serve the community. A brief “opening” ceremony was held outside in the Namadwaar grounds where a large tent had been set up. Dr Hema Salvady and Dr Seema Nanda welcomed the Mayors and Ms. Nisha Giri explained the essence of ‘Life and Soul’ to all those present. Ramaswamiji expressed his gratitude on to the community members, the Fair sponsors and vendors. Their active participation made this a reality. Honorable Mayor Delores Martin handed over “Thank You” mementos to each sponsor present. The two mayors were then taken on a tour of Namadwaar house, where all the screenings were being conducted. The sponsors conducting the screenings were all present inside the house. The Mayors walked up to each station, met the teams who were conducting the screenings and also presented them with Thank You mementos. Thank you certificates were given to the participating physicians – Dr. Bommanna – Allergy specialist, Dr. Hema Salvady – Rheumatologist, Dr. Jyothi Rao – Gastroenterologist, Dr. Ghanshyam Patel – Eye specialist and Dr. Seema Nanda – Eye Specialist.

The registration booth was manned by our volunteers and volunteers from a local school. These volunteers gave each family, bags and also entered them for Raffle prizes which were given away every hour. These bags were filled with educational materials and ‘goodies’ like pens, notepads, coupons etc.

The health screenings had already begun earlier around 8:15 AM and continued without a break until 12:30-1 PM. All the screenings were offered completely free of charge to everyone. The screenings offered were Blood Sugar – sponsored By Liberty Medical, a diabetes supply company; Cholesterol – Kroger Pharmacy; Body Mass Index and Blood Pressure – My Nurse Home Care; Vision screening – Dr Ghanshyam Patel, Dr. Seema Nanda and students from University of Houston EKG (electrocardiogram) – Sai Primary Care, Lung Function test & Pulse Oximetry – Alvin Community College, Bone Density – Walgreens Pharmacy, Carotid Doppler & ABI – Alvin Community College. The participants could also sign up for a Mammogram, which would be done at a later date in a mobile clinic in the neighboring area — by the ‘The Rose’ of Houston. There were free (bicycle) helmet giveaways (primarily for children) sponsored by Texas Medical Association. Approximately 80 free helmets were given away by volunteers.

Over 175 people from varied cultural backgrounds turned up for the fair. The participants were from Brazoria, Harris and Fort Bend counties covering at least six towns of Manvel, Pearland, Stafford, Alvin, Pasadena and Friendswood. About 120 people had called and registered and there were also several walk-in registrants.

Free vegetarian mediterranean food sampling by a local restaurant – ‘The Barbed Rose’, attracted a large crowd. Snacks, fruits and water were available for free for all the participants. These were sponsored by Sanofi, a pharmaceutical company and by the Sleep Center of Kirby. Other sponsors were Randalls Food store and Kroger pharmacy.

Survey forms were handed over to participants after they completed their testing. The overall response was positive. A few issues which we faced were the hot weather, long waiting times and long lines in front of some stations with tests that took approx 10-15 min each and because of which, some people decided to leave. About 140 people received the tests they needed. Some of the people who could not be tested were given information about how they could contact the vendor and still qualify for free testing!

The entire event was patrolled constantly by Brazoria County police officers and monitored by the local Emergency Medical Corp to avert any emergency situation if there was a need.

Several local organizations and volunteers had the opportunity of participating and serving the community.

Majority of the patients were very grateful for this health fair and all the health screenings. They expressed that they would refer Life and Soul Fair to their friends and family and they were also likely to participate in the Fair the next time. The positive things were that it was entirely free of cost for everyone, special screenings offered – like the Carotid Doppler, Lung Function and Ankle Brachial Index are not commonly offered in other such events and the participants had their results in their hands when they walked out the door!