India Abroad article on Health Events at GNFA

Health Fair at Silver Spring Gurdwara draws over 500 from diverse communities across the DC Metropolitan area!

18 tents, 8 rooms, parking lot filled, 350 patients helped, 200 people got free lab tests sponsored by Quest Diagnostics, 185 people got free flu shots sponsored by Walgreens, 73 diabetic retinopathy screenings, 53 bone density scans.

On a pleasant and inspiring September afternoon the Sikh American community of Maryland, partnering with the American Diversity Group, hosted a successful Health Fair at the Guru Nanak Foundation of America (GNFA.)

The kick off for this Health Fair, which comprised a comprehensive panel of free lab tests, was offered by Quest Diagnostics to over 200 participants two weeks prior to the main event. The lab tests included testing for possible kidney, diabetes, cholesterol, thyroid, and liver problems. Hepatitis B screening was also offered and availed by 100 patients.

A special blood donation van was sponsored for the second year by Inova at the behest of an outstanding GNFA youth volunteer, Prabhleen Kaur Aneja. GNFA youth and members enthusiastically gave blood for the blood drive.

The attendees were first examined by Primary Care physicians and then sent to the team of specialists present. The long list of the participating team of specialists ranged from cardiologists, endocrinologists, orthopedics, pulmonary specialists, neurologists, hematologist, podiatrists, ophthalmologists, nephrologists, GI specialists, and dentists.

Valuable scans were conducted for glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, bone density. Ten year cardiovascular risk was calculated by experts and conveyed to participants.

Dr. Priti Kaur Sood, a co-organizer for the Health Fair said “We were able to diagnose several patients with very high cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose. By identifying and treating these chronic conditions, we can help save lives.”

A very important part of staying healthy is good nutrition. Well known Nutrition Specialist Anu Kaur was on hand to speak with the attendees and offer advice about the importance of a balanced diet, and its keeping away many illnesses.

Steve Gammarino, chairman of the Advisory Board of Montgomery Cares, who attended the event said he was, “very pleased to see the comprehensiveness and organization of the Health Fair.” Safety Net Clinics that help the uninsured and under insured with benefits such as very low co-pays, or sliding scale payments fall under the umbrella of Montgomery Cares.

Vendors such as the African American Health Program, the Latino Health Initiative, the Asian American Health Initiative had set up information booths. Sharing information on Free Community Health resources was offered by Holy Cross Hospital, and the Muslim Community Clinic.

Dr. Darshan Singh Saluja, Chairman of GNFA, proudly stated that, “alongside the representation of a range of medical experts from the community, the Health Fair boasted vendors who brought awareness of multiple programs offered to those most at risk and lacking adequate health insurance.” He thanked all the participating physicians, nurses, and volunteers for putting in countless hours of selfless service, adding that “this event, which is open to all, reflected the true Sikh spirit; and that he was happy to see the Sikh community make a difference at many levels, and serve those in need.”

Ms. Jennifer Gray, from the Maryland Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives, commented that the Health Fair was, “well run and professionally organized.”

Howard County Delegate Claren Lam said he was, “pleased to see that there was a large turnout to take advantage of the Health Fair.”

Mr. Shiv Kumar, visiting from the state of Lucknow in India, spoke about the event’s compassionate service, good organization, and ‘Langar’ – a free community meal that is provided to all present.

Harsharan Kaur, GNFA Trustee and Health Fair co-coordinator, said, “that the large growth in attendance at the Health Fair in its second year makes clear the urgent need and substantial value of such an initiative, and has energized the volunteers to double their efforts for next year’s Health Fair.” She said that she was overwhelmed, when a Muslim gentleman stopped her to give his blessings in the Urdu language, and congratulated the organizers and physicians who had volunteered their time and services for the Health Fair, offering their ‘Seva’ – selfless service, to benefit all.

Dr. Charanjit Singh Khurana, GNFA Trustee and Health Fair co-coordinator stated that, “such events strengthen the community spirit in addition to helping people, and create a strong sense of belonging.”

Mayur Mody, Board Member of American Diversity Group and co-coordinator of the Health Fair expressed satisfaction at the outreach to the Latino, African American and South Asian communities, and specified that an important goal for next year was to widen outreach efforts to include many other communities.

State and County dignitaries joining the event expressed appreciation for the comprehensiveness and excellent organization of the Health Fair, and pledged their full support for the endeavor.

Post event, the deeply satisfied team of organizers were grateful to all those who had participated to make the Health Fair so successful. On being asked if they were ready to host Health Fair 2016, the enthusiastic response was a definite ‘Yes!”

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