On a sunny Saturday in early October, nine first and second-year DPT students accompanied Dr. Pullen to the Hispanic Health Fair at the North DeKalb Health Center. As we drove into the Health Center parking lot arrival an hour before the fair was scheduled to start, we were met by a long line of hopeful fair attendees stretching from the health center entrance all the way down to the street – a clear indication of the necessity of a community health event such as this. After a quick set-up of a sun shade tent, tables, chairs and printed materials, fair attendees began to approach our physical therapy station. It was soon quite evident that we would be extremely busy that day – as word spread that there were physical therapy services on-site, people arrived in droves. Students worked as a cohesive team to register individuals, take brief patient histories and then provide the appropriate education regarding aches and pains and ergonomically correct lifting techniques. Students also taught a “Back Class” which involved demonstrations on how to employ proper techniques when lifting and carrying heavy loads and included enthusiastic crowd participation! We saw nearly 50 nearly exclusively Spanish-speaking individuals ranging from age 10 to 68 over a 3 hour period and were able to provide education and practical advice regarding back pain, ergonomics and maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle.
All students gained valuable experience in treating a medically underserved population, working in a non-traditional environment and providing education to a diverse array of individuals. Although health fair organizers had initially predicted that approximately 200 individuals would attend the fair, over 400 people registered and received pro bono services in the areas of primary care, women’s health, flu vaccines and physical therapy. Students were enthusiastic about returning next year to volunteer at this important community health event.
The Hispanic Health Fair is sponsored by the Hispanic Health Coalition of Georgia and the Department of Multicultural Affairs, and aims to provide free health services to the Latino population in the greater Atlanta area. Emory DPT students attended the fair as part of the Service Learning Program which is supported in part by the Office of University-Community Partnerships.