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Health care expo set for Oct. 7

Will feature 'Biggest Loser' couple

POSTED: September 20, 2009 10:26 p.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Beth Cassady, R.N., prepares Rogelio Molina, 3, for his seasonal flu shot while mother Orfalina holds him Tuesday afternoon at the Hall County Health Department. Seasonal flu shots will be offered during the Oct. 7 HealthSmart expo.

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No health care debate here, as far as the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce is concerned.

“A healthier community is a more productive community,” said Dr. Jack Chapman, a Gainesville physician and head of the chamber’s health care committee.

“If we can do preventive health care, then in the long run, that’s going to be the best for the person.”

The chamber, along with area health providers, businesses and organizations, is sponsoring the 3rd Annual HealthSmart Interactive Health & Wellness Expo.

The event, set for Oct. 7 at the Georgia Mountains Center in Gainesville, will feature free health screenings from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., including tests for blood pressure, diabetes and skin cancer.

Also, more than 70 exhibitors will be set up from 1 to 6 p.m.

The event’s highlight is an appearance by Phillip and Amy Parham, a Greenville, S.C., couple that appeared as contestants on the reality TV show “The Biggest Loser.”

The Parhams, who lost a combined 256 pounds during the show, are scheduled to speak at 11:30 a.m.

They have appeared on the “Today Show,” “Oprah” and “The Doctors” and have formed a “90-day fitness challenge” that they plan to take nationwide, according to the chamber’s Web site.

“They’re going to talk about weight loss and how if affects not only their physical body but ... their whole well-being and just life in general,” said Robyn Lynch, the chamber’s vice president of membership.

A luncheon also is planned, with reservations required and the cost set at $20 person. Gainesville-Hall County’s “most fit company” will be announced then.

“We sent surveys out to employers in the region and we have scored those, and we plan to award companies that are the most progressive with health and wellness programs,” said Steve McNeilly, director of Northeast Georgia Health Partners.

The expo is open to the public at no charge.

Booths are still open for exhibitors for a cost of $350 each for chamber members, or $500 for nonmembers. Nonprofit tables are available for $100 each.

Public health officials will be prepared to discuss emergency preparedness, Lynch said.

“I’m sure the swine flu will be the big topic,” she said. “They’re also offering (seasonal) flu shots.”

Flu shots will be available for $25.

“We’ll be talking about wellness programs, as well,” said Mark Palen, emergency preparedness director for District 2 Public Health.

“What we have found is if you look at the different places where H1N1 has hit and where it has had its most profound impact is ... in places where folks don’t get proper nutrition, where (they’re) not likely to be involved in a wellness program.”

McNeilly said he hopes community wellness one day will become the norm.

“And then the folks who are ... going to be overweight, they’re going to smoke and not take care of themselves are going to stick out like a sore thumb,” he said.

Smoking in public places is now looked upon with disdain, McNeilly pointed out.

“It used to be commonplace to go into a restaurant and have a smoking section,” he said. “But now, if you see someone even lighting up at the doorway, it is like, ‘What are you doing?’”



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