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HealthSmart expo promotes well-being

POSTED: October 9, 2013 1:18 p.m.

Kim Snider massages DeDe Forrester's back this morning at the seventh annual HealthSmart Interactive Health and Wellness Expo at the Gainesville Civic Center. Snider is a physical therapist with The Rehabilitative Institute in Gainesville.

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Mike Evans has survived cancer and a heart attack.

Last year, one more health calamity may have been prevented thanks to preventive screenings at the HealthSmart Interactive Health and Wellness Expo.

“Through the screening here, I had a carotid doppler done,” Evans said, gesturing to his neck. “They referred me to my cardiologist so they could do a full one. It did help.”

Evans and his wife, Becky, were back this year to take advantage of the free screenings at the seventh annual event.

“I don’t have health insurance,” Becky Evans said. “This is my third year coming to this, and it’s a wonderful resource.”

Hosted by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, around 50 vendors packed the Gainesville Civic Center on Wednesday, offering information and advice to the hundreds of attendees.

Along with health screenings, flu vaccinations were available to anyone interested.

“Right now they’re starting to see some cases come up,” said Walgreens pharmacist Matt Owens. “They don’t think it’s going to be as bad as what it was last year, but they still think it may be higher than in previous years.”

The HealthSmart breakfast helped kick off the event, with guest speakers P. Tennent Slack and Dallas Gay, from the THINK ABOUT IT campaign, discussing prescription dug addiction.

“In the past 10 to 12 years, there has been a dramatic shift in drug abuse in the United States,” said Slack, a doctor with Northeast Georgia Physicians Group. He said prescription drug addictions have skyrocketed.

Gay spoke about his grandson’s prescription drug addiction.

“Prescription drug abuse was not on my radar a few years ago,” Gay said. His teenage grandson, Jeffrey Gay, then began spiraling into addiction.

After eventually enjoying nearly two years of being sober, Jeffrey lost his life in 2012 to an overdose.

“When that demon from the past called his name, he answered that call,” Gay said. “It cost him his life.

“Jeffrey’s story taught us that preventing addiction can be so much more successful than treating addiction,” he added.

After the speeches, the John Jarrard Foundation presented Gay and Slack with a $3,000 donation for the THINK ABOUT IT campaign.

Also at the breakfast, the Most Fit Company awards were presented to the Hall County Government, ProCare Rx and HTI Employment Solutions.


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