REENFIELD — She didn’t flinch as the nurse stuck a needle into her arm and calmly sat as the small vial collected a sample of her blood.
Michele Denny was one of more than 1,000 people who made their way to the Heartbeats Health Festival on Saturday. The health fair, brought to the community by Hancock Regional Hospital for the past 32 years, offered screenings, scans and other medical tests at discounted rates.
It was the savings that drew Denny to the festival to have a blood test, the results of which could affect her day-to-day life.
Denny has an underactive thyroid, a condition she controls with medication.
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She said the test at the festival ended up being less expensive than the options she was offered at her doctor’s office, even with insurance.
“And it was so quick and easy,” she added.
But cost wasn’t the only draw to the festival. Burt Curry said it was something simpler that brought him to the health fair to have a blood screen — convenience. The festival serves as a convenient, one-stop opportunity for residents needing a variety of tests.
Curry came to the festival with his wife, who also had blood work completed that day. For the Currys, the measure is a preventive one.
“We just want to see that we’re still healthy,” Burt Curry said.
Despite a downpour outside, a steady stream of people made their way through hospital hallways lined with booths and balloons.
Hancock County Senior Services was one of the 46 vendors that provided free information to attendees.
“This is a great program the hospital offers,” Kit Paternoster said. “It’s invaluable to the public.”
Paternoster said having the chance to meet potential senior clients also proved to be valuable for senior services.
“It’s really helped us let people know who we are and what we do,” she said. “We may be nonmedical in nature, but we want to help folks stay in their home as long as possible, leading healthy and happy lives.”
Watching groups from across Hancock County come together in the name of health was something that hospital community education coordinator Linda Garrity said she was pleased to see.
Garrity, a nurse at Hancock Regional, said she was drawn to her profession because she enjoys helping people. The event gives her another avenue to do so.
This marked Garrity’s fifth year organizing the health fair, which she described as a joint effort among hospital staff members. It’s hard work, but the results are worth it, she said.
“This festival is about helping people any way we can,” she said. “It’s really important to bring free education and low-cost tests to the community as much as we can.”
Garrity said that she noticed more young families being served this year than in the past but that all age groups, from young children to senior citizens, took advantage of the event’s offerings.
“I’m glad so many people seem so pleased and happy today,” she said.
Most of those attending come to have blood work done, Garrity said. Saturday, more than 1,400 lab tests were completed.
In addition to blood work, the hospital also offered ultrasounds, heart and lung scans at discounted rates.
Vendors also provided basic screenings, such as vision, hearing, oral health and skin cancer.
On Monday morning, as she reflected on the event, Garrity recalled a story that made her know the hospital’s efforts are worth it.
A visitor to the health festival was diagnosed with two potentially life-threatening conditions, Garrity said. As a result of Saturday’s screenings, both were caught early.
“Now she can help prevent those conditions from getting worse by making lifestyle changes,” Garrity said. “I’m sure she wasn’t an isolated case.”