Health concerns addressed at health fair

Don Folsom
Southern Ute police Department officer, Don Folsom, shares information with a student during the 2014 Health Fair at Sky Ute Casino Resort Friday, Nov. 7.
Sacha Smith | The Southern Ute Drum

“Mind, Body, and Soul” was the theme of this year’s Southern Ute Health Fair. It is held annually at the Sky Ute Casino Event Center, with this year featuring a number of displays spotlighting on the benefits of proper health care, including booths from the Southern Ute Police Department, La Plata Family Coalition, Behavioral Health Center, and the SunUte Community Center among others.  The fair was held on Friday, Nov. 7 and was met with 295 participants from the Ignacio School District, including Ignacio Middle School and Ignacio High School.

Lisa Burch Frost, health services manager, described this year’s health fair as a success as it showcased the importance of health awareness.

“I believe all the goals were met this year,” she said. “We’re aiming to meet the health needs of the community and recommend all of the services out there. There’s a good variety of services for [tribal members], and proper health care is something we really strive for.”

The Sky Ute Casino Event Center was stacked with a number of health booths, all ranging from diabetes awareness presentations to available flu shots. A majority of booths showcased safety displays, including a distracted driving simulator provided by the Southern Ute Police Department. Texting and driving has been a major concern in the United States since 2011, with approximately 23 percent of automobile collisions occurring due to cell phone distraction; meaning around 1.3 million crashes have occurred each year.

“We had a safety display that [established] the dangers of texting and driving,” said LuRhea Ramone, administrative assistant from the health center. “Pledges were given out to those who assured to never text and drive … we additionally did a meet and greet with the new health center staff so members are more aware of who’s currently at the clinic”

One of the main health concerns that have been addressed within the Southern Ute Indian Tribe is obesity and diabetes. A 2012 study showed that American Indian and Alaskan Native adults are 1.6 times more likely to be obese than Caucasian Americans, according to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. Almost 33 percent of all American Indians and Alaskan Natives, including children and adults, are obese. This has resulted in the consequences of heart disease and diabetes, which is most common within the American Indian and Alaskan Native community.

“Proper diet and exercise counteracts many symptoms and diagnoses,” said Brandon Johnson, community health representative. “We see lots of issues involving circulation issues and diabetes. [Most importantly] people can be unaware of what is put in their body. That’s why you avoid soda and high glucose tea.”

Johnson complimented on how he hopes to bring out a walking program within the next year to all tribal elders.

“We hope to walk with all elders at least three times a week,” he said. “We always seek different approaches and involvement for all of our elders.”

As the health fair continues to expand, associates are hoping to provide additional services for the community with a variety of services.

“I eventually want to provide a chiropractor, yoga instructor, and additional courses involving hands on activity,” Johnson said. “Involvement and teamwork is something we strive for, and we hope to collaborate with everyone in terms of health care and services.

“I am happy all tribal health departments were part of it,” said Lisa Burch Frost. “Every year, the event gets bigger and better. Remember to always stay active, stay informed, and make strong choices for a long and healthy life. Always look forward to better things.”

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