Keeping it fairly healthy

The nursing students enrolled in the Minot branch of Williston State College held a health fair Tuesday as a way to promote healthy living and offer preventive measures to people in the community.

The health fair, which was held at the Town and Country Center from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., offered colorful and decorative displays on such topics as hypertension, diabetes, smoking and tobacco use, immunizations, heart disease, strokes, and community acquired antibiotic resistant infections.

This was the third year that the health fair took place, according to Rhoda Owens, site manager and instructor at Williston State College, and the nursing students participated in the health fair as a class project. The requirement was for them to participate in the health fair and have a display, she added. The students in this program take classes on the fourth floor of Trinity-St. Joseph’s and will graduate in May as registered nurses.

The health fair had been held at the Trinity Hospital Skywalk for the last two years, but this marked the first year it was held at Town and Country. Owens said she chose the center because there is a lot of activity there, such as walkers, employees and businesses. The health fair was set up in front of White Drug.

“The hard part was getting tables, but Trinity has been supportive and loaned us the tables. We’re grateful to them for their help,” Owens noted. “Trinity has always been supportive with what we need. This (health fair) was a collaborative effort with Trinity.”

Owens, who teaches the theory portion of nursing classes, said she had the idea of holding a health fair so that students can apply what they have learned in the classroom. “The health fair helps the students feel good about what they’re doing,” she added. The topics have been the same every year, Owens said, because they seem to remain important and the topics are issues that can be controlled. “There is a lot of education available at this health fair and the students should know their topics really well so they can answer questions,” she continued.

Nursing students Kori Olden-Brown and Christine Kemp were in charge of the smoking and tobacco use display and had plenty of information to give to people. Olden-Brown mentioned the little-known Baby and Me Tobacco Free program through the First District Health Unit. In the program, the mom-to-be has to quit smoking and attend at least four program smoking cessation classes, agree to take a monthly breath test to prove smoke-free status and stay on no-smoking status after the baby is born. After the baby is born, if the mom stays smoke free, she will receive a monthly voucher for a year of free diapers.

The method of quitting that seems to work the best for people trying to kick the smoking addiction is Chantix, said Olden-Brown. “It stops the nicotine from being effective so then the smoker doesn’t need it (the nicotine fix).” Both Olden-Brown and Kemp also strongly urged smokers to attend the smoking cessation classes, the Freedom from Tobacco Kick Start, a one-session program that is geared toward helping individuals get started on their journey toward freedom from tobacco and meets the last Thursday of every month.

Kemp also mentioned the hazard of “third-hand smoke,” which comes from the residue of tobacco smoke that settles into the environment and stays there, or the chemical particles from burning tobacco that linger on everything after the smoke has cleared from the air. Also a hazard of third-hand smoke is breathing air in a room today where people smoked yesterday.

The importance of preventing the diseases on display was one thing Owens said she would like for people to have learned after visiting the health fair. The health fair was aimed at promoting a healthy life and healthy living, she added. “People hopefully realized how they can live a healthy lifestyle and we focused on prevention and trying to decrease the primary effects of the disease.”

Owens said she felt the health fair would empower community members through education and help people realize the importance of living healthy. We work with people as a partnership, she added, and if they have the education, they will hopefully follow some of the preventive measures and see the benefits of doing so.

Not much was new at this year’s health fair, Owens said, but there may have been some new research, treatment or information. When putting on a health fair, you want to make sure there isn’t any new research out there that people don’t know about but need to, she added. “The students applied what they’ve learned and learn their roles as nurses and their role in the community as nurses.” `