Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center is offering a free health fair on Feb. 25. (Photo by Steve Schwartz).

HAINES CITY – In this age of rising health care costs, it may pique the interest of more than a few people that a variety of health care services will be available next weekend, at an unbeatable price: free.
Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center is hosting its Annual Community Health Fair on Saturday, Feb. 25 from 8 a.m. until noon on the first floor of the hospital at 40100 U.S. 27 in Haines City.
Although there will be a few tests offered for a fee, most of the screenings and health information provided by the hospital’s physicians, nurses and medical staff, plus more than 40 vendors, will be free of charge to anyone who walks in the door.
“It’s purely a community service,” said Linda K. Vendl, the hospital’s director of marketing. “Health information is so important to everybody. We all need to know more about our health and ask questions about our health, and this is a way to get that conversation started. We have physicians who will be available to talk to people, and the testing gives them some baseline information to work from.”
Heart of Florida has been offering this health fair for years, and as Vendl noted, it attracts a solid crowd every year.
“Turnout has been outstanding,” Vendl said. “We estimate 200 to 300 people in attendance each year, and the way we estimate that is by the screenings. We screen over 100 people at a time, and we know not everyone gets those tests done.”
The attendance may be even stronger this year, she said, because the health fair will be larger than in previous years.
“We’ve expanded it,” she said. “We’ve got over 40 vendors this year.”
Another change is how much the hospital is charging for certain blood screenings, which will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. They include a CMP Comprehensive Blood Chemistry test, a Lipid Profile and a Prostate Specific Antigen for men.
“We’ve lowered the cost of them from $30 to $10 this year, so that’s a significant savings,” Vendl said. “We’re just trying to make it more accessible to the community.”
No appointments are being offered – just show up, look around, and take advantage of the information provided by the vendors from the Central Florida area offering health information, free screenings and giveaways. The free screenings scheduled to be offered include blood pressure, balance, hearing, pulse oximetry, and peripheral artery disease.
Fasting on the night before is recommended for anyone who wants the Comprehensive Blood Chemistry and the Lipid Profile screenings, Vendl said.
“If they want to get the blood screenings done, especially the complete metabolic blood count, they want to fast from the night before,” she said. “That will give them a more accurate reading.”
As for the folks who will be manning those vendor booths, Vendl said “We’ve got a variety. We’ve got physicians, we’ve got a hearing center, we’ve got home health care and durable medical equipment companies, and assisted living facilities – really, people from all aspects of health care covering any health-related means that people might have.”
People who are new to the area and don’t have a physician can also use the health fair as an opportunity to meet with Heart of Florida’s medical staff and possibly find their next family physician, Vendl said.
“We’ll have representation from the hospital’s departments, of course,” she said. “And we’ll have lots and lots of health care information on a variety of topics. The blood mobile will be here, out front, accepting donations, and as part of the donation process they will be checking cholesterol. So we have a lot going on.”
And, like many of those screenings, “The event itself is free,” Vendl said, “so they don’t have to do anything but be here and enjoy and learn.”
For more information about the Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center Annual Health Fair, call 863-419-2177.

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