The annual District 8 Community Health Fair in Fort Washington on Sept. 23 will offer free produce for attendees. (Courtesy of Prince George's County Health Department)
The annual District 8 Community Health Fair in Fort Washington on Sept. 23 will offer free produce for attendees. (Courtesy of Prince George's County Health Department)

A community health fair in Fort Washington on Saturday, Sept. 23 anticipates being its most productive and attended since it began six years ago.

Hosted by County Councilman Obie Patterson (D-District 8) of Fort Washington, for the first time will feature a 5K walk/run and free produce from the popular Miller Farms in Clinton.

“Plus, it is free,” said Michael Hancock, president of the Kappa Foundation of Fort Washington and one of several partners in the fair. “It could be 83 degrees … where it will feel like summer, so more people will be out.”

Hancock said up to 1,000 people could attend this year’s health fair at the Southern Regional Technology and Recreation Complex, with 75 representatives from the Fort Washington Medical Center, Capital Area Food Bank and dozens of other vendors and volunteers.

The free services scheduled to be available include:

• Flu shots;

• Medical and dental screenings for children and adults;

• Physical fitness activities; and

• Nutritionists to offer healthy eating tips.

A major push for health in the county could be assessed with rankings among 23 other counties and Baltimore City in Maryland.

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, an organization based in Princeton, New Jersey, which conducts research on health, ranked Prince George’s 14th in the state for health factors. Its focus stems on behaviors, access to health care, the environment and socioeconomic factors which affect the health of the population.

The foundation did rank the county third in the state in “injury death rate,” fourth among “adults who smoke” and fifth in “income inequality ratio.”

For Saturday’s fair, the county Health Department will offer information on a variety of programs such as “Diabetes on the Road,” a monthly class to learn about diabetes, exercise and healthy eating. The next class partnered with Doctor’s Community Hospital and Joslin Diabetes Center is scheduled for Oct. 5 at the Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center in Laurel.

The county’s Hearing Loss Association of American chapter will help educate people about the invisible disability. Gallaudet University staff will conduct hearing tests, an audiologist will provide various hearing aids and free caption phones distributed to those who qualify.

Those in attendance can also receive HIV testing from Heart to Hand, a nonprofit organization which also provides screenings for sexually transmitted diseases (STD), counseling and other services.

The group will also offer free HIV and STD testing Saturday at its Largo office the same time as health fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Sexual activity affects your entire life,” said Dedra Spears-Johnson, executive director of Heart to Hand. “We just want people to be complete and comfortable in their whole life. When you don’t ask and don’t tell, you don’t help your life experience. It is OK to talk about your body. Your sexual health affects your entire life and helps people out in a bigger way.”

Hancock said the fair allows people to receive free services in a festive atmosphere.

“In today’s environment, people tend not to go to the doctor because it costs $25, $30 for every co-pay,” Hancock said. “So just imagine being able to get [these services] for free and enjoy food tasting, learn how to prepare meals and just have fun. That is awesome.”

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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