On any given Saturday morning, the huge main parking lot at Olney Central College is a concrete expanse sparsely dotted with the odd car or truck.
However, this past Saturday, October 6th, it was a challenge to find a parking spot. Healthfest 2018 was a joint collaborative effort brought to us by Carle Richland Memorial Hospital, Health Care Alliance and Olney Central College.
The event took place in the main gymnasium, and every square foot was dedicated to the same goal; health education and assistance.
Outside of the gym, at 8:00 AM, Dr. Reid gave a medical presentation in the OCC theater.  The Olney Lions also provided an ‘eye bus’ where an interested person could get a basic vision test free of charge. The Lions didn’t stop there, though. They also had the Lions hearing bus, which was also provided freely. Passersby could barely hear the roars.
A helicopter from Air Evac Lifeteam was on hand next to their helicopter. No free rides there, unfortunately. However, what news they did share was vital. One member of the team stated the average cost for a medical emergency helicopter ride ranges around $18,000.00. Yes….that is thousand.
But, there is silver lining here. Air Evac Lifetime is part of a network that offers special insurance for helicopter rides. To be insured for five years against such a staggering bill (not covered in regular health insurance), the cost is only $500.00, or just $65.00 if paying monthly.
At the main event inside the gym, a steady hum of a hundred conversations taking place at forty-four different stations filled the air non-stop. The event was two-fold in mission. One aspect was that of private companies with tables or booths highlighting their service.
Many local companies were in attendance, such as Williams Brothers Pharmacies, Lavender Ridge, Rides Mass Transit, Helia Healthcare, Curves, Fox River Assisted Living and Swan.
The other aspect of Healthfest 2018 was to encourage people to utilize the various free tests being offered. ‘Big Medicine’ can get a bad rap from time to time. Events like Healthfest 2018 go a long  dispelling that negative perception.
Undoubtedly, there were individuals that went Saturday and wound up discovering they weren't as tip top as they thought. There are few things on this planet to which the term ‘preventative measures’ is more crucially required. No doubt some people saved great sums of money with the information they discovered. For others, it’s possible Healthfest 2018 discovered a physical malady potentially saving their lives.
OCC had a strong presence beyond the obvious location being themselves. OCC nursing students provided free blood pressure screenings as well as OCC Radiology. Additionally, Olney Crossfit was on hand to provide free body fat analysis. Feddes Chiropractic provided free chiropractic evaluations.
As expected, Carle RMH provided the greatest number of services, many of which were free of charge. They offered free lung age spirometry, free balance screening, and also offered free blood pressure screenings along with Free Medication Cards. For a very reasonable fee, CRMH provided Lipid profile/cholesterol screening as well as free blood glucose screening.
The entire Healthfest 2018 event was very successful, if one gauges foot traffic and customer interaction as the barometer. Events such as these are well worth the time. One free, simple non-invasive test could potentially alert a visitor to a mild condition now, thus avoiding what could become, uncaught and untreated, a tragedy of the very worst sort.
As the event was billed Healthfest 2018, if Olney is fortunate, next year OCC will host Healthfest 2019. This reporter will be going for sure, though unlikely via helicopter.