From the looks of the turnout at the Senior Health Fair last Thursday, one might have thought that the event had been hastily thrown together at the last minute, with little planning and without sufficient notice given to the community. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
The event organizer, local resident Bren McClean, is certainly no slouch when it comes to organizing events to benefit the community. For several years she has been active in the Moapa Valley communities, keeping her finger firmly on the pulse of the greatest needs. And she has worked quickly and effectively to address those needs.
When she learned that local children were going home from school on the weekends to an empty pantry, and usually going hungry, McClean mobilized available resources. With the help of willing partners in the Three Square organization, she launched a Mobile Food Pantry, bringing nutritious food to local families in need. Three Square had long been looking for an effective local vehicle to serve the rural areas of northeastern Clark County. McClean’s huge effort of organization, planning, and mobilization of local volunteers was just what was needed to fit the bill.
When she found that funding for local flu shot clinics had been cut, despite the huge crowds of people who relied upon them, McClean once again went to work. Coordinating with Immunize Nevada, Walgreens and the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD), she brought the flu shot clinic back. This has helped hundreds of people get access to flu shots that they would not have received otherwise.
More recently, McClean received feedback from seniors in the community. They remarked that the healthcare options targeted directly for seniors were scarce in Moapa Valley. They expressed a need for a health fair that would be focused at their particular segment.
Once again, McClean responded with action. She employed the same organizational tactics she had used with the previous community events. She made contact with the same cast of representatives that had collaborated with her before. Immunizations, specifically aimed for seniors, were offered at the fair including shots for pneumonia, TDAP, flu and even shingles. Experts were available to talk to seniors about dental care, health insurance coverage, Medicare, hearing aids, home health care and hospice, senior fitness programs, estate planning, funeral pre-payment planning and more. A wealth of information and services, aimed at the senior population, was there for the taking.
McClean also worked hard to get word of the health fair out in the community. She posted fliers up all over town, put ads in the newspaper, made numerous posts to social media, gave presentations in person at the Overton Senior Center; all to let people know about the date. She covered every base she could think of to publicize it to the seniors of Moapa Valley. She even offered free transportation service to folks who would not be able to drive to the event. Indeed, she widely published her own cell phone number and encouraged people in that situation to call to arrange a ride to the fair. No one called.
The day finally arrived. All of these resources were gathered in one place to provide important services to the community. And no one came – or precious few at least! Scarcely more than a dozen people showed up to benefit from this labor of love effort.
What a shame! That so much time and effort by so many people and organizations was expended to fill a perceived need in the community, only to have the intended recipients not show up in sufficient numbers to support the event is truly discouraging.
Most likely there are many reasons that this event received such a lackluster reception, all involving complex demographics and a myriad of scheduling conflicts. But one thing is clear. Whatever logistical hurdles encountered by McClean in bringing all of the various elements together for last week’s event will be set much higher when it comes time to plan the next one. Representatives and service providers who have spent several hours doing nothing at an empty health fair may find it difficult to commit to return again.
To her credit, McClean is unwavering. She has pledged to forge ahead and coordinate a second annual Senior Health Fair for next year. Hopefully, for the sake of retaining these hard-fought services in the community, it will be better attended.