While driving home a few days ago, I heard a story on NPR about the World's Fair, which is apparently still going on--in Shanghai. Interviewer Robert Siegel and I were wondering the same thing. He asked: Who needs a world's fair, and what could possibly be seen in Shanghai that a thousand times more people can't learn about online?
Then, I considered the health fair--that staple of hospitals across the country; the intersection of healthcare and the community; the booths; the swag; the blood pressure screenings.
When I started at our hospital nearly six years ago, our annual Heart Fair was one of the biggest events of the year, next to our Auxiliary Ball. Flash forward a few years, with some budget cuts, and it seems that our Heart Fair has gone the way of the horse-cart. We haven't had one in a couple of years, and it seems that no one--internally or externally--has really noticed.
Still, we have a Community Wellness department that hauls a traveling roadshow set-up around the 'burbs, setting up at Chamber events and neighborhood festivals. Sometimes, when "the spirit" (or Administration) moves, a health fair happens.
I asked our Community Wellness Manager about what she thinks makes a successful health fair:
It's one that has a strong turn-out of engaged people who ask questions rather than just taking freebies.
She went on to concede that, yes, there will be people who seek information online, but that the value of the health fair is that people can interface directly with a potential healthcare provider. She finds this especially valuable when physicians participate in the health fair.
It gives patients an opportunity to meet the doctor, ask them questions about their practice, and see if there's a connection that might cause them to switch to one of our physicians.
She was more than accommodating of my questions, since she knows well that I'm the resident cynic when it comes to these things. I suppose we should take the health fair as our chance to be visible in the community, rather than just virtual.
What have your great health fair experiences been like?