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HealthSmart Expo includes screenings, education
Expo to be held at Georgia Mountains Center
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Interactive Health and Wellness Expo

When: 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today
Cost: Free

Kickoff breakfast and Most Fit Company Awards

When: 7:30 to 9 a.m. today
Cost: $10 for Chamber of Commerce members; $15 for nonmembers
Where: Georgia Mountains Center, 301 Main St., Gainesville
Contact: 770-532-6206


The Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with several local health care groups to bring them all under one roof for a day of health and wellness.

The fifth annual HealthSmart Expo will be held at the Georgia Mountains Center in downtown Gainesville today.

More than 500 people are expected to attend the expo where 55 exhibitors will provide interactive wellness services such as free health screenings and educational booths.

"It's kind of exciting to have that many health care entities under one roof," said Kit Dunlap, president and CEO of Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce.

The health fair can be a great opportunity for people to discover what services are available and also for local health care businesses to network with each other.

One of the most popular reasons for visiting the HealthSmart Expo is to participate in the free health screenings. There will be seven general health screenings, such as glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure and body mass index screenings.

There will also be several specialized screenings for conditions such as blood clots, sleep apnea
and balance.

"The first purpose (of the event) is education and also to encourage people to live a life of wellness and give them the tools to do that," said Michelle Wiley, the chamber's vice president of membership.

Dave Hubbard, former NFL player, coach and motivational speaker, will speak during a kickoff breakfast this morning. Also during the expo there will also be an opportunity to attend ask the experts sessions that will include discussions on topics such as diabetes, training for a 5K run and downloading health care apps for your iPhone.

With so many people having financial difficulty, the free screenings provide an opportunity for people to learn about their bodies.

"I've had a lot of people tell me if it weren't for the health screenings we provide they wouldn't have known they had a problem," said Sandy King, Northeast Georgia Health Systems outreach coordinator.

Several of the screenings are for disorders people might not consider checking until something bad happens. Take balance for instance. Falling can lead to broken bones and long-term problems for many seniors.

The Rehabilitation Institute of Northeast Georgia Medical Center will provide balance and fall risk assessments. Participants in the assessment will walk along a straight line to check for any issues.

Three physical therapists will be available to answer any questions a person may have about rehabilitation or ways to avoid a fall.

"People will ask ‘what can I do around the house?'" said Don Walsh, director of outpatient rehabilitation.

He said simple things like getting rid of throw rugs and removing unnecessary furniture can prevent a debilitating fall.

"You'd be surprised when you talk to patients about how they fell," Walsh said.

The chamber encourages people to see what the local health care community has to offer.

"It's free, so there's nothing stopping you from coming," Wiley said.


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