Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2015 - 07:42:25

Hospital and Neighborhood Team up to Promote Healthy Communities and Bodies
By Sarah Steele Wilson
Oct 10, 2012, 13:18

photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Dr. Clifford Morris (standing) and Harry Freeman (seated) fixed up childrens bicycles with help from other volunteers.

Country Aire Mobile Home Park in Prince George County spent Saturday morning getting healthy with the first installment of what neighborhood watch president Kathy Martin intends to make an annual tradition.

“We’re here for our first annual health fair, in conjunction with John Randolph Hospital,” said. “Every year, we’re going to honor one of our residents in the neighborhood.”

This year, the neighborhood was honoring Harry Freeman, who has lived in the neighborhood for 10 years, but was not well known to the community prior to Saturday’s celebration.

“They know him as the gentleman in the green truck,” Martin said. “We want his neighbors to get to know him and we want to make our neighborhood a healthier place.”

Martin is always eager to promote events that encourage residents to socialize and was happy to team up with Hopewell cardiologist, Dr. Clifford Morris, who first proposed the idea of a neighborhood health fair. Morris, and other attendees of the monthly living with congestive heart failure meetings at John Randolph Medical Center, realized that the hospital was not the only place they could promote health.

“We decided that, with so many patients who continue to come back to the hospital over and over, we figured there was something missing from what we were doing in the hospital,” he explained. “So the thought is to come out into the community, try to educate the community so it can become a supportive unit for all the patients who come through.”

Freeman was helping fix bikes for the neighborhood children, an activity that also helped introduce Freeman to the community.

“I did that when I was a kid,” Freeman said, watching a child ride off on a newly repaired bicycle.

Martin said that by becoming the neighborhood repairman, fixing tires, breaks and chains, Freeman will become known to the people who live around him.

For Martin, the event fit in well with the neighborhood watch mission to create a healthy community by encouraging neighbors to associate with one another.

“I am ecstatic,” she said. “Everybody’s walking around, they’re enjoying themselves, they’re eating, they’re talking. I see them walking around with materials from different tables in their hands. I am happy. I do feel like it’s a success today.”
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Faith Burton admires veteran Bob Nelson's army bear at the Coutnry Aire Health Fair.

The materials people were perusing were offered by a variety of organizations including the Department of Health, The Stand School, The Department of Social Services, the energency rew, and This Ability.

Food Lion had a table with nutritional information on common household foods.

“They’re showing healthier alternatives,” Martin said. “Ramen noodles for 44 cents versus an apples for 44 cents.”

Amanda Coalson, secretery of the neighborhood watch, said she believed the information residents were learning would promote community health.

“I think a lot more people will understand the simple things about health,” she said. “They might make more health conscious decisions .”

Morris said the day provided an opportunity for hospital staff to see their patients in their everyday environment.

“It’s also an opportunity for our employees at John Randolph, and for all of us, to come out and to understand what our patients are all about. They’re more than just pills and tablets and procedures and that kind of thing.”

As a cardiologist, Morris said he is very aware of how the different organs in the human body work together, and how the health of one can effect the health of all.

“It’s the same with the community,” he said. “One person is to the community as one organ is to the body. So the community as a whole becomes stronger via health.”

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