Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Inside SOP, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy’s blog. It is reprinted here with permission.
In the early hours of May 31, 2017, a team of faculty and students from the Peter Lamy Center on Drug Therapy and Aging at the School of Pharmacy arrived at Patterson Park in Baltimore to take part in the “Movin’ and Groovin’ for Good Health” health fair organized by the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks. Each member of the team had a stethoscope and sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff) handy, and by 10 a.m., a long line of individuals waiting to receive a blood pressure assessment and speak with trusted members of the Lamy Center team had formed under the merciless sun.
With the formation of a second line, all visitors had an opportunity to engage in deep conversations with members of the team about the many challenges associated with living with their specific illnesses and the best way to optimize their use of medications. The event did not pass without several lessons learned:
Never Forget That the Challenges of Older Adults Residing in the Community are Very Real
While music, dancing, and a jolly atmosphere saturated the surroundings, many of the older adult participants took time from their day to talk with us about their prescribed medications; recent hospitalizations and diagnoses; falls; challenges of living with hypertension, heart failure, diabetes, overactive bladder, and depression; issues with polypharmacy; and medication adherence – to name a few. They were seeking answers!
Building Strong, Meaningful Relationships with Community Partners Was Never More Fun
After having her blood pressure assessed at our table, the division chief of the Special Populations Unit for the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, posed for a picture and later shared these kind words, “Thank you so much for bringing your pharmacy students to our fitness event yesterday in Patterson Park. What an enthusiastic and knowledgeable group of young people! The weather cooperated and the event was very successful. The participation of [The Peter Lamy Center at the] University of Maryland School of Pharmacy always adds greatly to our senior health education and promotion efforts and is greatly appreciated. I truly find it a pleasure to work with both you [Dr. Mansour] and Dr. Brandt. On behalf of Baltimore City Recreation and Parks, the Baltimore City Health Department, and Baltimore’s older adults, thank you again.”
To Have the Greatest Impact on the Health Education of the Community, Attend a Health Fair
Health fairs are a well-received intervention for community health programs, and their success can be traced back to 19th century county and state fairs. One will continue to learn many lessons about the needs of the communities and residents that they serve by attending these events – lessons that cannot be taught in a classroom or auditorium.