While a summer in the city is marked by health fairs, community wellness events and summer festivals, it can be hard to find an event that offers a good balance of information and fun. On Saturday July 23, Healthfirst, a not-for-profit health insurance company, held their annual Health and Wellness expo at the Bed-Stuy Restoration Plaza at 1368 Fulton St. As the sound of the entertainers filled the block, each passerby couldn’t help but wander towards the plaza to find out what was taking place under the bright tents and the barrage of vendor tables.
After an informative breakfast that was hosted by Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and moderated by Susan Beane, MD, Healthfirst’s Medical Director, a large group of local families, community leaders and outstanding medical professionals all joined together to create a full service health expo in the heart of Brooklyn. Apart from live entertainment, attendees enjoyed health screenings, a panel discussion, smoothie samples, a Zumba workout and a plethora of activities for children to enjoy throughout the day-long event.
During an interview with George Hulse, Healthfirst’s Vice President of Community Engagement, we begin to understand how this event positions itself to serve the community every year. “We had a cross section of doctors on the panel this morning: a cardiologist, an internist, a diabetes specialist, an asthma specialist and a psychiatrist who all came together to provide an enlightening discussion for a full house of community members,” explains Hulse.
Local elected officials made a point to make an appearance at the breakfast and throughout the afternoon at the main expo, where stations were set up to deliver more information. Apart from the traditional moon bounces and face-painting stations, families could opt for a full health screening onsite that offered an in-depth look at some more serious health issues.
“We had over 22 different organizations supplying over 60 vendors, who did a cross section of health procedures. We even had a cardiologist, who had an EKG machine ready to offer a snapshot of someone’s heart health,” Hulse explained.
While the event offered a plethora of opportunities for local Brooklynites to get a handle on their existing conditions, the tone of the event called for more proactive steps to avoid becoming ill in the first place. Vendors were fitted with stations that had information on nutrition, exercise options and even an opportunity to better understand health insurance coverage. For some locals who find it hard to locate answers to their questions online, the health expo served as an opportunity to have a real conversation about their health and insurance needs.
One such vendor, the Haitian American Nurses Association, was invited to collaborate with Healthfirst as they brainstormed new ways to bridge the gap between healthcare and those who need access to it. During an interview with Marie Hyppolite, a nurse with the Haitian American Nurses Association, she explained that the event continues to grow each year in size and in wealth of knowledge.
“A large amount of people took advantage of the services here to find out more information about their health concerns but some came just to have a real conversation about medical bills, certain services and the next steps in finding more resources,” she explained.
The Health and Wellness Expo was free and open to the public, even if they were not currently insured by Healthfirst or any of their partners. In keeping with the theme of the Healthfirst mission, the expo allowed locals to take preventative steps towards living a healthy life all under the guidance of well-trained medical professionals. While the Bed-Stuy section of Brooklyn, came out in droves take advantage of these health screenings, there is still an opportunity for more Brooklynites to partake in the next event on Saturday August 13, in Brownsville. For more information, please click here.