RU students organize Christiansburg health fair

The New River Valley Senior Health Fair is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon Thursday at the Christiansburg Recreation Center. Free to anyone 50 and older, the fair is being organized by eight RU nursing school seniors and their instructor: (front row, from left) Regina Masters, Sarah Gray, RU nursing professor Maggie Bassett,, Nicholette Paculan, Misty Queen; (second row) Laureen Gardner, Alexandra Derenzis, Rachel Leopold and Melissa Johnson. (Photo by Shelby Vasko)
The New River Valley Senior Health Fair is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon Thursday at the Christiansburg Recreation Center. Free to anyone 50 and older, the fair is being organized by eight RU nursing school seniors and their instructor: (front row, from left) Regina Masters, Sarah Gray, RU nursing professor Maggie Bassett,, Nicholette Paculan, Misty Queen; (second row) Laureen Gardner, Alexandra Derenzis, Rachel Leopold and Melissa Johnson. (Photo by Shelby Vasko)

Eight Radford University nursing students have been busy organizing a community health fair set for Thursday at the Christiansburg Recreation Center.

The New River Valley Senior Health Fair was created for New River Valley residents who are 50 and older.

“We will have a lot of booths aimed at that age group, with most gearing toward people 65 and older,” said Maggie Bassett, a nursing professor at Radford.

The 4th annual fair will be held in the center’s basketball gyms.

“The rec center has provided more and more support over the years,” Bassett said. “This year they are allowing us to use the full gym when in the past we’ve only gotten a portion.”

The fair will have door prizes and gift bags for all who attend. The fair has attracted hundreds of seniors over the years.

“The students really take the reins for this project,” Bassett said. “They check with the agencies, plan the booths and take on all the publicity roles.”

The senior community health-nursing students are assigned the fair as a final project before they graduate in May.

“It is such a big project,” said Christiansburg native Misty Queen, a senior nursing student. “There are a lot more elderly people in the area than we thought. We drove all over the place to gather data. Once we discovered what the seniors needed, we worked on finding vendors.”

The fair will host between 52 and 60 vendors, all offering free healthcare services and advice. Seniors will be able to test blood sugar levels, hear about transportation options, have their vision and hearing checked and more.

“There are so many elderly people who don’t take advantage of available services,” said Alexandra Derenzis, another senior nursing student. “If they don’t have transportation or health insurance, they don’t keep track of their health as well. At the fair, they can check up on their levels in order to maintain good health.”

According to the students, many people in the area are looking forward to the fair.

“I went to an in-house visit for my clinicals [hands- on training hours] and the family was asking about the fair. They knew that the Radford nursing students put on the fair and wanted to know when it was coming around again,” Derenzis said.

For RU nursing senior Nicholette Paculan, the fair offers an opportunity to gain experience in geriatrics.

“It’s really helpful practice to interact with the elderly New River residents. I am going into geriatrics at a rehab center after graduation,” Paculan said.

In fact, for many of the women, working with the older clients has provided clarity in the nursing field.

“We realized how much we love old people through this project,” said Regina Masters. “No one is more grateful than an elderly patient.”

What: NRV Senior Health Fair

When: 9 a.m. to noon Thursday, Feb. 26

Where: Christiansburg Recreation Center, 1600 N. Franklin St.

What: Healthcare and community agencies will answer questions and discuss services for adults 50 years and older. Free health screenings will be available, and pharmacists will also be available to review medication lists. Prizes, raffles and refreshments will also be offered.

Cost: Free

Information: Call the rec center at 382-2349

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