HILDALE – Hundreds of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona citizens crowded the gym of Water Canyon High School on Saturday, but it wasn’t for a Wildcat basketball game. They were there in force for Short Creek’s first-ever health fair. Dozens of cars, vans, and even a side-by-side ATV cluttered the parking lot until mid afternoon.
Children enjoyed the bouncy house and the free balloons, darting between volunteers from The Dream Center. Parents enjoyed the free screenings and volumes of health information for their families. One could even learn about the history of Nevada nuclear testing and the health effects of atomic bomb fallout, if they were so inclined.
The joint Physician Assistant program out of University of Utah and Dixie State provided a small army of their brightest red-shirted PA students to help take height and weight, perform vision screenings, and assist doctors with physicals.
“It looks like a triangle,” I overheard Hildale Mayor Jessop’s youngest say, peeking out of one eye. He was right, I think. I wasn’t wearing glasses, and Focus Eye Center noticed I was squinting. I made an appointment at their urging.
The PA students gained valuable hands on experience with the public while helping our towns in need. All services, from blood pressure checks to screenings for diabetes risk factors were free to the public in Hildale, Colorado City, and surrounding municipalities.
Dozens of vaccinations and school physicals were performed just in time for school to start in a week or two. Young ones were provided a fluoride treatment and an update on baby teeth progress. Anja Kaonohi’s youngest two had a dozen or so to lose between them.
Intermountain Healthcare sent a traveling team from Utah Valley to perform 59 pre-diabetes, blood pressure, and depression-centric screenings. The table was full the entirety of the day, serving citizens with a comprehensive questionnaire and a coupon for local grocers.
The public health situation in Short Creek has long been delicate. Between economic hardships and the requirement to drive an hour for adequate healthcare, many residents have gone without crucial preventative maintenance.
To help fill in this void, a permanent healthcare clinic will open in Hildale later this year, and the health fair will absolutely return in 2019.
Plans for next year have already started formulating in the minds of city officials and concerned citizens, alike. An “after action report” led by Hildale City Manager John Barlow sifted through strengths, missteps, and crowd-sourced plans for the future.
Event organizer Shirlee Draper had to say, at the end of the long and busy day, “It was phenomenal. It blew our expectations away.”