At its core, a Health & Wellness Fair is a way for many organizations to come together to provide access to care to help improve other people’s lives. Thanks to a generous grant from the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, Summit Health Cares (SHC) is planning half a dozen Health & Wellness Fairs over the next six months to provide education, medical care, food, supplies, and more to underserved communities and neighbors in need. Many of the Health & Wellness Fairs will be held at food pantries who partner with SHC in programs that help empower the community.
“What we know is that there’s a challenge with our neighbors in need accessing different types of services,” explained Julienne Cherry, Executive Director of SHC. “If we understand our community needs food, we work to partner with an organization that can provide food stamps. If we know they struggle with medical care, we can give them access to information about affordable health insurance and work with Summit Health volunteers to offer blood pressure checks and HbA1c testing for diabetes. It’s about providing access to what people need within their community in an effort to help sustain the community.”
The Health & Wellness Fairs depend on strong partnerships with other organizations that can help provide information to attendees. For example, one fair featured three COVID-19 vaccination clinics and COVID-19 testing (in conjunction with Newark City and Essex County), HIV testing areas, insurance companies providing information on more affordable plans, Veterans’ groups and the city of Newark helping people find housing, information, and access to NJ SNAP (New Jersey’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), period/hygiene products, the police and fire departments talking about safety and more. Summit Health volunteers offer blood pressure screenings and will provide free sunscreen with information on skin cancer and the Enright Sun Safety Course™ and take-home tests for colorectal cancer coupled with education on good colon health and follow-up when test results were in at additional fairs.
“These Health & Wellness Fairs are even more important now because of COVID-19,” expressed Pamela Singer, Director of Operations & Community Engagement. “Through these fairs, we’re able to bring multiple partners together so that we can reach out in the community to help people find housing, get access to food, and COVID-19 testing. These fairs also help get accurate information to people who are hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine because they’re offered an opportunity to sit down and have a real conversation with health care professionals to talk about their concerns and hesitancies. That access is incredibly important because many of them wouldn’t have it otherwise.”
SHC is grateful to all of our partners for their support and participation in the Health & Wellness Fairs, especially the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey!