For The Tribune

Schneck Medical Center’s annual health fair focuses on providing people with information about healthy lifestyle choices and free and inexpensive screenings.

But a Freetown woman learned during this year’s event Saturday at Seymour High School that there’s a way to live healthy while saving money.

“I thought the food demonstration was wonderful, it was very tasty, it was very well presented, it gave us a very economical value — especially for single people like myself for us to be able to have a nutritious meal without a lot of expense, plus being very healthy for you,” Theresa Rouse said after watching Haley Hester cook chicken stir fry during the expo. Hester is a nutritional services intern at Schneck.

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Schneck employees help organize the event each year. This year’s fair, known as the Live Well Expo, featured more than 40 booths focusing on nutrition, preventative care, health checks and exercise in the Lloyd E. “Barney” Scott Gymnasium.

Rouse said she took part in the food demonstration to learn more and to refresh her memory. She said she battles weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides and that she hopes eating healthier can possibly ease some of those issues.

“Eating healthier will help make those things — I hope — better for me,” she said. “Or maybe it will help level them out a little.”

Rouse said she takes responsibility for her health and knows what she needs to do to implement and continue a healthy lifestyle.

“Eat less, move more and be mindful of what I am doing because the choice is mine,” she said before continuing on to visit other booths at the 32nd annual fair.

Rexanne Ude, Schneck Foundation, said the hospital — and health care industry overall — is trying to shift the focus from patient care to preventative care.

She said most people don’t know Schneck has established a nutritional services department to help change eating habits to live healthier lifestyles.

Ude said the department is an open door where people can come in and have conversations and ask questions about what they need to do to eat healthy.

“It’s increasing that level of engagement that our community has with our hospital and with other resources in the community that are available,” she said.

Ude said Schneck is trying to lead by example. A new wellness department, created six months ago, is an example of that effort. The department is staffed in two sections — one part of the staff helps encourage healthy living through nutrition and exercise within the hospital while the other does the same for the community.

“One part helps develop plans to make our employees healthier,” she said. “We hope to then be able to replicate for other employers to roll it out to their employees and learn what’s making a difference in the lives of employees.”

Ude said while the program is still relatively new, it has been successful.

“There’s a walking group and there has been a vegetable challenge,” she said.

The vegetable challenge split the hospital into teams to see which one could incorporate the most vegetables in their diet.

“Those are the kinds of programs we’re looking at and seeing who is participating in them and what are the numbers and if it is making a difference,” Ude said.

The expo was a success for Mitzi Silver of Seymour, who said she attended because she likes the variety of things the expo offers.

“They have a lot of things to help keep you updated,” she said.

Silver said she took advantage of the seasonal vaccines the expo offers and receive a flu shot and whooping cough shot.

“I had to have those, I’m getting a new grand baby at the end of next week,” she said.

Silver said this is the first time in the last couple of years she has been able to attend the event.

“I just haven’t been able to make it here,” she said. “I know what they offer and I wanted to see what all was new.”

Silver said the event is important because it helps give people resources at little or no cost.

“I know people want to get their blood work done here and it is very affordable,” she said. “I think an event like this is great for the community and it’s great that people can come here that need a doctor for an issue like arthritis and can find out that that is something our community offers and things like that.”

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Jordan Richart is a correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.