By Kelsey Durham
Hundreds of people were treated to free health screenings and education earlier this month at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center’s annual health fair outside the hospital.
Dozens of tents were set up on streets and sidewalks surrounding the center Aug. 23 in Bushwick, Brooklyn, just west of Queens, where community members came out to enjoy the hospital’s yearly event. The goal is to make the neighborhood healthier by providing the free resources and materials needed to stay in good health. The fair featured more than two dozen vendors as well as several tents set up by the hospital to provide screening, such as blood pressure and glucose testing.
“Our goal is to educate everyone about the departments we have here and the help we can provide people,” said Evelyn Chassagne, executive assistant to the president and CEO of Wyckoff. “We want people to know that the hospital is here for them and it’s free to come here and ask any questions you want to ask.”
Chassagne said the health fair has been taking place for a few years, but the main difference in this year’s event was the increase in the number of interactive activities, including the free screenings and even lab work that could be sent out for results within the hour.
“A lot of people don’t go to the doctor on a regular basis and to get screened, so they can come here today and get results, too,” she said.
Another vastly improved part of the fair this year was the children’s area, where activities included arts and crafts and activities to help children become more comfortable with a hospital setting.
Angela Barimah, certified Child Life specialist at the hospital, said this year’s Children’s Corner was the biggest the fair had ever had and said the activities that now add learning into the usual fun the children experience helped make the turnout so great.
“The idea is that if a child has to come to the hospital, it doesn’t have to be this scary place,” Barimah said. “In prior years, the focus has just been on fun activities for the kids while they’re here, but now we have medical providers coupled with that so they can learn, as well.”
One of the longest lines throughout the day was for a tent where children could use make-believe equipment and stuffed animals as patients and play doctor for whatever situation they chose, with doctors from the hospital walking them through how to feel comfortable with the injuries or sicknesses they were treating.
Chassagne also credited the unexpectedly large turnout this year to the hospital’s efforts to reach out to the community — including Long Island and Queens, which she said the hospital largely serves — and let them know about the event. She said staff members and volunteers went door-to-door with information and posted fliers in the surrounding communities to spread the word about the hospital’s mission.
“We want to send the message that this is the community’s hospital and to tell people to come see what we have to offer,” Chassagne said. “And most importantly, make sure to get checked out.”
Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at kdurh[email protected]glocal.com.