Fair educates public on available healthcare services in Solano County

A variety of health care organizations set up tents outside the Department of Public Health building in Vallejo on Friday to provide health information to residents.

The health fair was a part of National Public Health Week, which runs from April 6-12, and served to help residents learn about what public health programs are available to them. The groups covered different aspects of health care topics, including nutrition, infant and child health, safe sex, driving safety and also provided glucose screenings for those who attended.

Tatiana Davis, who works with the nutrition education and obesity prevention group, said the fair was created in part to publicize the public health programs in Solano County to Vallejo residents.

“We wanted to make sure that we had a lot of different types of services around health that people could come to and get a lot of information without any cost to them,” Davis said.

“Vallejo has a population of people who are really interested in health, but not everybody has the ability to get in the car and drive to Fairfield,” Davis added. “We wanted to bring it here and we wanted to show that we care about everybody who lives locally. We wanted to bring (this fair) to their front doorstep and we wanted to make it as accessible as possible.”

The California Highway Patrol showed proper ways to use car seats for children, a nutrition group passed out snack bags of green beans and cherry tomatoes to attendees and others learned about the free clinic services provided by Touro University California — which also provided a free glucose screening.

“Today, we were fortunate enough to have somebody who can provide glucose screening and bring awareness about monitoring your own health and preaching about our diabetes education,” said Annabelle Prasad, a student with Touro.

Touro was there to not only provide the screenings but to also promote its free diabetes education clinic, to teach locals about the disease and how to prevent or manage it.

The clinic, which will be at the Norman C. King Community Center starting Monday, is being held in conjunction with the school’s free health clinic run by students.

“At the clinic we offer health screenings, we do blood pressure screenings on a regular basis ... and we do immunization and free flu shots as well,” said Touro pharmacy school student Khin Htwe.

Maternity and infant care group, Black Infant Health, was at the fair to educate the public on proper sleeping techniques for children to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and to encourage African-American women to seek prenatal care. A crib with a doll was placed nearby to demonstrate how infants should be placed on their back when sleeping, with no toys or anything that could smother the baby.

“African-American babies have a higher rate of mortality, as well as a low weight birth rate where they don’t thrive as well,” said Ida Barbour, a volunteer with Black Infant Health. “That’s what Black Infant Health is ... to teach (African-American women) to take care of themselves (and their babies) and I think it’s a really an important program.”

Sakari Lyons, a social worker with Black Infant Health, said their group tries to encourage African-American women in Vallejo to seek care while they’re pregnant, as well as educate themselves on pregnancy and infant care issues.

“African-American mothers here in Solano County either get into prenatal care too late or they don’t get into prenatal care enough,” Lyons said. “That can be because of the politics and discrimination that African-American people go through, so we want to acknowledge that and we want to empower and encourage them to ‘go before you show’ and ask questions. First-time moms, they don’t know what to ask. So we really encourage and empower them to ask questions (about their care) and advocate for themselves.”

The fair was just a sliver of the services provided to the public, but served as a good reminder of the type of education and healthcare options that are out there.

“We want Vallejo to get just as much attention and public health awareness as anywhere else in the county,” Cara Drake, a health educator, said. “We have a lot of public health programs in Vallejo that are available and free to the public.”

Drake said the fair is just one of a few events the county puts on that shows residents “what we have available in our county that you can access and the people who are running it, so there’s a face to the actual program.”

More events will be held by Solano County Health & Social Services to encourage a healthy community. To learn more about the events, as well as health and social services offered by Solano County, visit www.solanocounty.com.

Contact Dianne de Guzman at 707-553-6833.