Rural Health Success Story Contest 2011 Winner: Stillwater County Health and Wellness Fair

Stillwater Health and Wellness Fair

“According to the Stillwater County Health Profile provided by the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, the leading cause of death in Stillwater County is cancer.  The second leading cause of death is heart disease. 
Health care in Stillwater County consists of one local, thirteen bed, hospital, two rural health clinics, two nursing home/skilled care facilities, one home health agency, one public health nurse, two registered sanitarians, two physicians, one nurse mid-wife, one physician’s assistant, two dentists and two dental hygienists.  There is a shortage of mental health professionals though there is a Mental Health Center with a Mental Health Board which meets every three months. Lisa Terry, the Family Consumer Science agent is a member of that board.  Health and nutrition education are key in developing the healthy lifestyle changes that are needed in order to reduce the rate of cancer and heart related deaths.  There is a need for an increase in routine physical examinations in order to increase early detection. There is also a need for raising awareness of the various health related services and resources available to county residents.

The Health Fair Committee, of which the family consumer science agent is a member, provides leadership on the planning and implementation of the Stillwater County Health and Wellness Fair. We have received positive feedback through personal contact, phone calls, emails and newspaper ads regarding the belief that the fair  reinforces the goal of educating the public to adopt healthy lifestyle changes. The Health and Wellness Fair is a collaborative effort of the MSU Extension Agent, Stillwater County Public Health Nurse, Stillwater County DES Coordinator, and the Columbus Health Mart Pharmacy. We also received a donation of printed brochures from the RHI which helped tremendously with our advertising effort.

The goal of the Stillwater County Health and Wellness Fair consists of four areas: 1) To raise awareness of the various health related resources and services available to county residents 2) Provide low cost health screenings to local residents which will play a role in early detection 3) For residents to adopt healthy lifestyle changes as a result of the information, services and demonstrations provided 4) Implement a plan of action in the event of wide-spread illness.
A variety of health screenings is available to local residents at a minimal cost.  Those low cost screenings include blood profiles, blood pressure checks, glucose checks, a mobile mammography unit, bone density scans and flu shots including H1N1.   Local health care professionals will be on hand providing information, conducting screenings, and answering health related questions.  Educational sessions/demonstrations are offered.  The Health Fair saves the consumer thousands of dollars in health care costs due to the low cost screenings as well as saving lives through early detection.  Abnormal screening results are referred to primary care physicians for further review.

We use mass media with the help of Columbus IGA to provide researched-based health related information to our constituents.   The Family and Consumer Science Newsletter online also can be utilized to access the information by Stillwater County residents.  Residents gain knowledge on developing and maintaining healthy lifestyles. These lifestyle changes include making healthy food choices, implementing a fitness program, receiving low cost health care screenings and gaining knowledge of the prevention of diseases.

Held in October 2011, the fair attracted over 500 participants which is double from the previous, initial year in 2010; 148 took advantage of health related screenings.  Low cost screenings included blood profiles, blood pressure checks, glucose checks, blood sugar checks, bone density scans, hearing tests, and flu shots including H1N1.  Emphasis for the year was placed on children and teen health and fitness.  Over 100 children and teens participated in a fitness obstacle course, climbing wall, Wii fit activities, a health occupations puppet show, dental and hearing screenings, and a visit to the Ronald McDonald Mobile Health Unit.  A vendor waiting list for next year has already been established.  Participant surveys were used to evaluate program effectiveness.  Over 100 surveys indicated excellence in programming efforts and that they would attend again next year.”

Submitted By:
Lisa Terry
Stillwater County Extension Agent
Montana State University