On a sunny and warm Saturday morning, El Comité de Longmont hosted a public health fair designed to help local residents identify community-based health services and navigate the complexities of Colorado’s insurance marketplace.
Laiza Pena has been a case manager and training coordinator with El Comité for about 18 months, and this was her first year organizing the event. The goal of the health fair was an extension of the non-profit’s advocacy work, exploring options for people to interact with a variety of different service providers and better understand health care financing options.
“We wanted to give people in our community the chance to speak directly with different resource providers and to ask them questions. Lately, we have had a lot of people asking about health insurance and looking for clinic referrals,” Pena said.
Mariah Frank with Boulder County AIDS Project hosted a booth at the health fair, offering free tests for HIV and other STIs.
“We are the region’s only dedicated HIV and AIDS center, and we provide case management and supportive services and work on prevention. The goal here at the fair is to give access to tests and to talk about how to prevent transmission,” Frank said.
She wants people to know that they can access free tests on-site at BCAP at any time.
UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital offered attendees free bicycle helmets and helmet safety checks. Workers demonstrated how to measure a helmet for size properly and how to determine when a helmet needs to be replaced due to normal wear and tear. They handed out sunscreen packets and provided information on mammograms and other essential health services.
Previous El Comité health fairs have been focused on providing free and low-cost health screenings and vaccinations, but this year, Pena took a different approach.
“We tried to look at the whole of public health, including needs like housing and services for people with disabilities, and just make this a place to get that information. It’s less about providing care this year and more about giving people an opportunity to see what exists in their community,” she said.
Multiple community services and nonprofit organizations like the Center for People with Disabilities, OUR Center and Longmont’s Recovery Café hosted booths providing information, snacks and giveaways. Connect for Health Colorado was on-site, helping people to better understand health insurance options, ask questions about enrollment and to navigate government programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
“People are busy and it can be hard for them to access services or even know that they exist. Events like this give us coordination among different agencies and organizations and connect us with the community,” Frank said.