Health fair checkups bring shoppers to a stop

March 29, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

Herbert Braun took one shoe off, climbed onto a table and submitted himself to a medical exam right in the middle of a shopping mall.

The Millersville resident passed the "body fat test" and moved on to another stop on the Harundale Mall health tour, where shoppers could mix spending money and getting well in one Saturday afternoon.

"I would rather be home playing with my computer," said Mr. Braun, who works seven days a week but tries to keep in top physical condition. "So far, with what I've heard, I'm in good shape."

More than 1,000 people like Mr. Braun took advantage of North Arundel Hospital's health fair on Saturday, which offered a variety of free or nominally priced tests ranging from hearing and vision screenings to cholesterol and blood-pressure checks.

Hospital officials said many people who attended the health fair either cannot afford regular checkups or neglect to take routine medical tests. And while most people came specifically for the fair, others who found it by accident simply incorporated it into their weekend chores.

"I came here to sign my granddaughter up for softball," said Mary Neal, a Millersville resident who stopped to have her eye pressure checked. Too much pressure can indicate the onset of disease, like glaucoma.

"You would be surprised at how many people think the only reason to go to an eye doctor is to get glasses," said Olive Mattera, a technician with the Baltimore-Washington Eye Center in Glen Burnie.

Another popular stop was the cholesterol testing station, where Mary Francis, a medical technician with North Arundel Hospital, was helping to draw blood. "We've had a lot of wives insisting that their husbands come through," she said. "I thought that was kind of neat."

Mildred Hanks, who got the test, wasn't planning to have blood drawn when she went to the mall. "I came to go to the bank," she said, adding that it had been three years since she last had her cholesterol checked. "I thought I might as well as long as I'm here."

Booths were set up in virtually every corner of the mall, ranging from informational to functional. Medical professionals were on hand to explain everything from AIDS to home health care to insurance to cardiac catheterization.

North Arundel's pediatrics center used dolls dressed as doctors and nurses to help ease young children through a basic exam, and video monitors played tapes of surgeries.

"I came because of the fair," said Eleanore Fedock, who lives in Ferndale. "It doesn't hurt to get checked out. I think it keeps people in line."

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