Blood pressure was one of several health conditions attendees of the NAACP Minority Health Fair could checked out. BRETT TURNER / CONTRIBUTED

Minority Health Fair in Springfield grows in fourth year

A need in the Springfield community was met with a strong response on Saturday.

The fourth NAACP Minority Health Fair was held at a new location — Lincoln Elementary School in Springfield — and had more vendors and several doctors to help Springfield’s minority population be preventative or aid with existing health concerns and general awareness.

The event offered numerous screenings, including blood pressure, cholesterol, hearing, vision, teeth cleaning, mammography and more, along with information on various services in one location.

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With 57 participating agencies, up from 44 the previous year, it pleased Dr. Surender Neravetla, who chairs Springfield NAACP Health. He reached out to fellow area doctors to aid the neighborhoods where the need is greater to show they care.

“Blood pressure and heart failure are the two top problems for minorities,” Neravetla said. “There is a trust factor; too many don’t reach out until it’s too late. This is the doctors’ problem too. So we’re screening from top to bottom today.”

Attendees who completed certain screenings were rewarded at the completion with a free gift bag including a bathroom scale, pulse oximeter and blood pressure monitor. The items are a $150 value and provided by area organizations.

Neravetla claims more than 90 percent of the local African-American community members have high blood pressure, and by using these instruments to be preventative it can help not just save lives, but money due to decreased emergency room visits or reduce later health problems.

Kay Lawrence gladly accepted the gift bag. She likes attending health fairs and had her toddler great grandkids in tow, making it a family day out as they enjoyed chocolate and water.

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Norris Burton brought a friend to Lincoln on Saturday so the friend could get items from a food pantry. Being able to attend the health fair was a bonus.

“It’s a win-win,” Burton said. “I want to be well and be alive.”

The 66-year-old was screened for hepatitis A, smiling through the needle procedure, saying the staff helped not make it hurt at all. He also has high blood pressure and an artificial hip, but wants to keep his problems limited to those.

Neravetla said the health fair is hard to put together, but the help of the health agencies including Community Mercy Health, the Clark County Combined Health District and numerous volunteers makes it easier.

Such dedication drew two proclamations, one local and one from the state level due to its commitment to the people.

One came from the City of Springfield and was presented by City Commissioner Dr. David Estrop and the other was from the United States Senator Rob Portman and delivered by a representative from Portman’s office.

Denise Williams, president of the sponsoring body NAACP Springfield Unit, accepted the proclamations with Neravetla.

“We are so exciting to keep it going. We want to let it grow until we can’t do it anymore,” she said.

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