Merlene Davis: Organizers hope UK's free health fair will reach all in need

Herald-Leader columnistAugust 8, 2012 

  • If you go

    Free University of Kentucky Multicultural Health Fair

    When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Aug. 11.

    Where: 807 S. Limestone, between the UK College of Pharmacy and Speedway gas station

    Parking: Free at UK Chandler Hospital parking garage, or take Lextran bus route #5

    Information: or email

Josh Lester wants us to look back at those times when we have been frustrated, confused and exasperated with the health care system as we sought help for ourselves or loved ones.

Then he wants us to magnify those issues and emotions by picturing ourselves in a foreign country where we don't understand the language or the culture.

We definitely would need a helping hand.

That is exactly why students in various health care professions at the University of Kentucky are hosting the Multicultural Health Fair on Saturday.

"A lot of times when you don't speak the language and are in a strange place, it is hard to get plugged in," said Lester, a second-year medical student in the UK College of Medicine. "We are trying to reach people who are not necessarily comfortable with the health care system. We are willing to go that extra mile."

Formerly called the Hispanic Health Fair, the fair has been broadened this year to include many cultures. All demographics, including underinsured, uninsured, low-income, no income and foreign language speakers, are welcome.

There will be interpreters on hand for many languages including Mandarin, Russian, and Spanish.

Begun in spring 2000, the fair is organized by students at the College of Medicine. It has provided free basic health services to 350 to 500 individuals a year in the Latino community, and this year students hope to help 750 to 1,000 adults and children of all races and ethnicities.

In addition to medical students, dental, ophthalmology, nursing, pharmacy and physical therapy students are volunteering at the fair.

"We are going into this profession to serve people," said Kenisha Webb, 23, a second-year medical student from Pikeville and vice president of the second-year class. "People at the multicultural health fair are all volunteers. It gives people of Fayette County a better chance to interact with a health care professional."

Some of the services will include flexibility screening, blood-pressure and vision checks; dental exams; blood glucose, urinalysis, hearing and HIV tests; memory screenings; and body mass index measures. Women's health services will be provided in a separate location for privacy.

"No medications will be prescribed because that would require follow-up visits or appointments," said Lester, 24, of Mouthcard. "If something is discovered, there will be people to direct you to the right place."

Pharmacy students are hosting the Brown Bag Program in which patients are asked to bring their medications to the fair in brown bags so that drug interactions and side effects can be discussed.

Throughout the day, exhibitors will be distributing information about disease prevention, family and children's health services, local free and affordable clinics, diabetes and kidney health, mental health and migrant worker help.

And there will be various educational seminars as well.

Participants should bring their medication list, vaccination records and questions. Each will receive a drawstring backpack to hold the information that will be handed out. No medical cards are needed; all services are free.

There also will be free snacks and drinks, and inflatables and games for children, Webb said.

Participants will be asked to complete an exit survey about what they liked or disliked about the fair, she said. The data collected will be used to apply for more grants so the fair can become even larger in coming years.

"For those looking for one-stop shopping, this is it," Lester said.

Merlene Davis: (859) 231-3218. Email: Twitter: @reportmerle. Blog:

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