A quick stop at the Hospital Sisters Health System St. Joseph’s and Sacred Heart area during the Eau Claire Farm Show March 3-4 just might have a long-lasting return.
Visiting the booth can help attendees assess their hearing loss, stroke and cancer risks, and they can have their blood pressure and cholesterol checked.
For those whose assessment shows a high risk, early detection is “extremely beneficial,” said Debbie Lauer, director of home health, hospice and palliative services at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
While they aren’t meant to replace visits to primary providers or physicians, as rural health options have grown farther and fewer between, on-site health clinics at farm shows can provide an additional way for farmers to get a better picture of their health.
The health clinics bring awareness to health as a whole and can even be life-saving for some, Lauer said.
Without regular checks, someone may have no idea that, for example, their blood pressure was running potentially dangerously high, Lauer said.
High blood pressure is a risk factor for other diseases and ailments, and getting it checked at the farm show allows HSHS to refer patients to a clinician for followup, or, if deemed necessary due to severity, straight to a hospital.
Even if all is normal in the screenings, HSHS will help educate anyone who stops by the booth on important health matters, so that they can be better informed on what to watch for and know about in the future.
HSHS has been offering health clinics at the farm show for several years. They offer many other opportunities to get these screenings throughout the year as well.
Lauer said that the participation from the Eau Claire Farm Show attendees is appreciated and noted that the farm show is a convenient place for farmers to get these screenings.
Each year they see repeat visitors, Lauer said, some of whom provide the HSHS staff working the booth with an update on the outcome of recommendations given to them the year before.
“It’s wonderful to have people return,” Lauer said.
Lauer said that they enjoy “any time we have the opportunity to bring health care to the community,” with events like the Eau Claire Farm Show.
She said that they’re “honored” to be able to provide services like those offered at the show in order to make sure that the community has the access to the health care they need.
Lauer described farmers as dedicated and a “group of amazing people” but noted that the often constant hard work that goes into the job can mean that farmers may be unaware of health changes occurring.
According to the National Ag Safety Database, farmers are at increased risk for respiratory diseases, noise-induced hearing loss, skin disorders, certain cancers, chemical toxicity and heat-related illnesses due to a variety of environmental hazards.
A ballpark estimate of the number of blood pressure screenings from HSHS clinics that indicate a need for followup is somewhere between 20 and 30% of those seen at the farm show, Lauer said. She added that around 150 to 200 attendees stop by the booth, which is staffed by 10-12 people, each year.
“Any individual is welcome,” Lauer said.
For those hesitant about stopping the HSHS booth, the payout should be well worth it.
After all, spending 15 minutes or less at the farm show to receive relevant screenings and health education, Lauer said, could potentially save your life.