POPLARVILLE - Approximately 400 women took time Saturday to learn how to be healthier when they attended the 2013 Women’s Health Symposium at Pearl River Community College.
The symposium gave them free health screenings, a panel of five area physicians who answered questions about women’s health concerns and a rollicking keynote speech.
The women also received pearl earrings as a special favor and an insulated lunch bag along with a variety of samples and promotional items from more than 30 vendors at the health fair.
“I’m glad I came,” said Carrie Hales of Poplarville. “I’ve had a bone density test. I had my cholesterol checked.”
The event, the seventh hosted by PRCC, featured keynote speaker Barb Bancroft, a nurse practitioner and author of “Kiss My Asparagus!”, a guide to nutrition’s role in health and disease.
Bancroft kept the audience laughing as she touted the benefits of exercise and diet, including any kind of beans.
“As long as it gives you gas, it’s a good bean,” she said.
A healthy lifestyle helps prevent chronic disease, a problem that is relatively recent.
“Most people in the 1920s did not live long enough to have a chronic disease,” she said.
She also encouraged everyone to get a flu shot, pointing out that although the vaccine takes two weeks to protect against the flu, the flu season lasts another 12 weeks.
“It hits you like a Mack truck and then it backs up,” she said.
Bancroft and the doctors on the panel admonished the women to be proactive about their health.
“The most importart part of your healthcare team is you,” said Dr. James Riser, a family practitioner in Picayune. “You are the center of the team.”
In addition to Riser, panelists were Dr. Jennifer Bailey of Hattiesburg Clinic, Dr. Andrea Carter of Women’s Pavilion of South Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Dr. Angela Jones of Poplarville Clinic of Hattiesburg Clinic and Dr. Lara Otaigbe of Wesley Primary Care in Hattiesburg.
The symposium’s popularity may force changes in the future, said Dr. William Lewis, PRCC president.
“When we began this venture seven years ago, the idea was we wanted to build off our Wellness Center,” he said. “The first year, we had about 200 people. This year, we had about 400 people. Quite frankly, we’re at a crossroads. We had a waiting list this year.”
With the Ethel Holden Brownstone Center for the Performing Arts and the Marvin R. White Coliseum slated to open this year, symposium planners have options for future events, he said.
In addition to the favors each guest received, dozens of door prizes were awarded, including six grand prizes:
Vera Bradley bag from PRCC admissions - Ruth Ann Kohnke of Lumberton.
Eighteen-inch pearl necklace from Paris Jewelers - Joye Ferrill of Poplarville.
Year’s supply of Coca-Cola from Coca-Cola of Hattiesburg - Valerie Rainey of Poplarville.
Healing Touch Day Spa gift package - Margaret Lynn
Concrete picnic table and benches from the PRCC masonry program - Paula Bond of Poplarville.
Belk Day of Beauty package - Teresa Amacker of Poplarville.
Grand sponsor for the symposium was the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation.
Silver sponsors were Hancock Bank, Slidell Memorial Hospital and Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home. Bronze sponsors were BankPlus, First National Bank of Picayune, Hattiesburg Clinic, Highland Community Hospital, Southern Bone and Joint Specialists, Wal-Mart Supercenter of Picayune and Wesley Medical Center.
Screening and demonstration providers were SafeHeart Health Screens, Forrest General Home Care and Hospice, Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home, Hattiesburg Clinic, Highland Community Hospital, Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Mississippi Department of Mental Health, Poplarville Family Chiropractic Clinic, Grace Health Care, Wesley Medical Center, Healing Touch School and Day Spa, Hattiesburg Eye Clinic, Cloverleaf Immediate Care and students from the PRCC nursing, medical laboratory technology and cosmetology programs.
Additional information booths were provided by Dermatology South, MS Self Defense, Pine Grove, Pink Ribbon Fund of Hattiesburg, Planned Parenthood Southeast, Poplarville Family Clinic, PRCC dental hygiene program, Southern Bone and Joint Specialists, Stone County Hospital and Clinic, Poplarville Medical Clinic and WebMD Health Services.
Pearl River Community College cosmetology students Racquel Brekeen of Carriere, from left, and Constance Dedeaux of Wiggins give manicures to Lois Smith of Picayune and Peggy LaDue of Poplarville during the 2013 Women’s Health Symposium Jan. 26 at PRCC.
PRCC Public Relations photo