DNJ photo by Jim Davis Vivian Michael-Whilhoite of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority show Bobbie Black a phone that has large numbers and can be amplified at the Health Fair at the St. Clair Sr. Center. She also explained to Black the different assistance programs the authority provides.
THE DAILY NEWS JOURNAL • February 25, 2009 BY GREG MABRY Around 200 senior citizens attended Tuesday's health fair at St. Clair Street Senior Center to receive free health screenings and talk with health service vendors about their programs. The Winter 2009 Health and Education Fair, hosted by the senior center, was a "fantastic success," according to center director Linda Burt. "People get information and screenings, and the vendors get to show what they have available," she said. Connie Gaessler, 66, said she believes the fair saves seniors a lot of time. "I appreciate all the hard work that has gone on to provide us this information, so that we don't have to go out and look for it," said Gaessler, who retired from the Alvin C. York VA hospital in Murfreesboro after 40 years. MTSU nursing students were at the fair to provide seniors with a screening measuring blood sugar, hemoglobin, and blood-oxygen saturation. Brittney Glisson, a senior nursing major, said the screening provides the nursing students with excellent practice. "This room has been full all day," Glisson, 23, said. "Seniors usually have lots of questions and we have more time to answer them than a physician normally would." The fair addressed other quality of life issues as well. The Tennessee Regulatory Authority had a booth at the fair to provide information about government assistance available to low income utility consumers. Vivian Michael-Wilhoite, consumer educator for the TRA, was busy providing seniors information about a program that provides large button to people with visual impairments and amplified volume phones to people with hearing impairments, free of charge. "These are some of the best-kept secrets," she said. "Most people don't know about them." Another program, called Lifeline, provides low income telephone subscribers with a discount of up to $13.50 per month on a local service telephone bill. There's even a program that provides low-income citizens with a free cell phone and free monthly minutes, called Safe Link Wireless. The senior center hosts the fair twice per year. The next fair will take place in September. "I got some information about diabetes and about the heart," said Joe James, 67, who said he's been to previous health fairs at the center. "It's always enlightening," he said.