Montgomery County holds men’s health fair

Montgomery County Department of Public Works Commissioner Eric Mead gets his blood pressure taken by Walgreens pharmacist Hannah Palsgraf. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

FONDA — With Father’s Day on Sunday, and with June being National Men’s Health Month, the Montgomery County Public Health department held their first Health Fair on Thursday.

The health fair included: St. Mary’s Healthcare promoting for free colorectal screenings for uninsured men and women ages 50-64; St. Mary’s Breast and Prostate Cancer Peer Education program who serve Fulton, Montgomery and Schenectady counties; Montgomery County Mental Health to promote mental health awareness, suicide prevention and how to stay mentally healthy; Montgomery County Public Health promoting prostate Men’s Health Awareness month, health tips for men, emergency preparedness and HPV vaccine; and Walgreens Pharmacy to promote medications and give a blood pressure checks.

“We’re promoting the prostate and colorectal exams for men. Men sometimes think they don’t need to be tested or don’t need to be examined because they’re all physically fit, but disease doesn’t discriminate, it’s going to catch up with you one way or another,” said Debi Cristalli, RN at Public Health and nurse coordinator. “It’s important for men to be tested, just as it’s important for women.”

Cristalli said the health fair is a good way to make men aware of certain diseases that can affect them and to promote prostate and colorectal cancer screenings. The health fair gave men resources as to what services are available throughout the county and where men can go to get screenings or test in the county.

“It lets them know they’re not alone. These things are very normal in men, and sometimes they don’t even know what they’re suppose to get checked out or how old they’re suppose to be to get certain things screened,” said Sara Boerenko, director of public and mental health. “Most men don’t know what normal blood pressure is, or when they’re suppose to get screened for colon cancer or prostate cancer, or what they can do to keep themselves healthy other than eating right and exercising. But that routine care is really important.”

There with the Breast and Prostate Cancer Peer Education program, Elizabeth Nato said they educate men and women on the importance of cancer screenings.

“For the women, I encourage them to get their mammograms done,” said Diana Gonzalez. “If they can’t, I’ll help them find a doctor, help them make an appointment. For the men, we talk about their prostate health and encourage them to go to the doctor.”

They have also recently began a free walking program on the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook Bridge in Amsterdam. It is held every Wednesday from 6 to 7 p.m.

“It goes along the lines of the education of healthy lifestyles, so we talk with people on the bridge about their cancer screenings,” Gonzalez said.

Suzanne Hagadorn was at the health fair to talk to men on colorectal cancer awareness. She shared information on symptoms and what age men should start getting screened.

“Age 50 is the general age where they should start for average risk screenings,” Hagadorn said. “If they have family or personal history they should start sooner.”

St. Mary’s Breast Health Center now also offers free transportation for women to go get mammograms whether they have insurance or not.

“I have a husband, I have a son, I have a dad, I have a grandfather; I think men are very important in our lives for a number of reasons, and as public health we tend to focus a lot on women’s issues and children’s issues,” Boerenko said. “With Father’s Day coming up, it’s a great remembrance of how important men in our lives are and keeping them healthy, because we know as women we are 90 percent caregivers for men and keeping them healthy alleviates some of that role as a natural caregiver for us.”

By Kerry Minor

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