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13th annual Women 4 Wellness Health Fair planned for May 23

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PABLO — After 16 years and 12 fairs, soon 13, the Women 4 Wellness Health Fair has expanded from its original purpose to provide free health screenings, becoming a teaching event for students going into medical, dental and science fields. 

According to event co-coordinator Eleanor Vizcarra, the unforeseen evolution has provided valuable opportunities for students in health-related fields to learn firsthand from doctors who volunteer their time at the annual health fair. About five years into health fair, additional screeners were needed so organizers brought in students from the University of Montana’s Family Practice Residency. Residents were able to gain firsthand experience from providers who donate their time at the event. The collaboration worked so well that student training opportunities have grown ever since. Students from the Western Montana Family Practice Residency program, the WAMI Medical Student program, nurse practitioner students, physician assistants, and students from the SKC nursing, dental assistant and medical assistant programs have taken advantage of clinical training opportunities available through the fair. 

Last year was the first year the event was held after a 3-year-hiatus due to COVID pandemic. Organizers opted for smaller, outdoor events during interim years to minimize risk of spreading the virus. Though last year’s participant numbers were down, 882 people were served at the one-day event. In its first year, eight screenings were offered. Last year, 35 health screenings were offered on site by 127 attending volunteer medical professionals. Some of the screenings/services offered include blood tests, glaucoma testing, mammograms, cervical screenings, EKG tests, hearing screenings, blood pressure tests and immunizations.

The fair’s free screenings have provided lifesaving detection for some women. No less than three positive cancer screens have occurred during each fair since its inception. Additional resources and diagnostic screenings are made available to these women from major area hospitals. 

As the largest women’s event in the state, and since some of the screenings require clothing removal, the fair is largely run by other women - staffed by both female providers and community volunteers.

“It’s women taking care of women,” Vizcarra said. “We all know people, friends and family, who can use this.”

This year’s Women 4 Wellness Health Fair will be held Thursday, May 23 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Joe McDonald Health and Fitness Center on the Salish Kootenai College campus. Those interested in attending are encouraged to pre-register at:

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