Wellness exams focus at Fort Meade health fair
May 20, 2011
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (May 19, 2011) - Since last summer, Susan Villarreal had several health concerns but had been procrastinating about seeing her primary care physician.
So when the staff at Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center urged her to attend the center's first Women's Health Fair on Saturday, Villarreal made sure she was there.
"It's a good reminder and a positive experience," said Villarreal, an Army spouse who resides in Meuse Forest.
More than 30 women attended the four-hour event.
"I'm very happy with the turnout. Our patients seem to be really happy," said Maj. Richard Rickley, the head nurse of Kimbrough's primary care unit and an event co-organizer.
During the health fair, a women's wellness exam, oral cancer screening, immunizations and other preventive health measures were offered to women who are beneficiaries of TRICARE Prime. In addition to medical treatments and screenings, vendors were available to provide massages.
The fair also featured informational displays on diabetes, suicide prevention, breast cancer, heart disease, nutrition, physical fitness and mental health. Army Community Service and WIC, the federally-funded nutrition program for low-income women and children, provided informational displays as well.
Rickley and Elizabeth Marcano, population health program manager at Kimbrough, came up with the idea of the health fair and presented a proposal a few months ago to Kimbrough commander Col. Leon E. Moores, of U.S. Medical Department Activity at Fort Meade, to better serve female patients.
Moores approved the fair as a way to promote community health, Marcano said.
"We as women always put ourselves second," said Marcano, a co-organizer of the event. "We wanted women to know the importance of preventive health and that early detection saves lives."
Kimbrough will conduct its first Men's Health Fair on June 25 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The women's fair included seminars on women's reproductive health, teenage and young adult sexuality, pre-menopause, menopause, and women's sexuality and aging.
Megan Hayden, a public health nurse, said the topic of teenage and young adult sexuality is important because many young people do not know that 50 percent of the pregnancies that occur between the ages of 12 and 35 are unplanned, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"People are not using contraceptives. ... There's a lot of embarrassment regarding contraceptives and a lot of people do not have a large knowledge base about the different methods," said Hayden, noting that sexually transmitted diseases are also a health concern for young people.
Public health nurse Virginia Taylor said that as women grow older, they need to embrace the concept of healthy sexuality.
"Love yourself and then you can disclose yourself to someone else," said Taylor. "Enjoy being sexual and sensual, but be responsible."
Sgt. 1st Class Tina Jones, of the 902 Military Intelligence Group, came to the fair with her 11-year-old daughter Java.
"I have a busy life. I'm a single parent and busy with work. It's hard to fit me in on a personal basis like I should," she said.
Presenting the health fair on a Saturday made it possible for Jones to finally get a wellness exam, she said.
"I have to try to do it whenever I can fit it in, and that's still not enough," Jones said.
Women such as Jones are the rule, not the exception, said Marcano.
"Women are the center of the family," she said. "We take care of the husband and the kids. We don't take time out for the simple things. We don't take care of ourselves."
Taylor said she hoped the health fair also boosted women's self-esteem.
"We're worth it," she said.