GREENFIELD — It started at 6:30 a.m. Saturday with a line stretching out the hospital doors.
Volunteers offered golf cart rides to people leaving their cars in the parking lot, and event-goers, like Melissa Nichols of Hancock County, made up a steady stream of more than 600 individuals seeking low-cost health screenings at the 33rd annual Heartbeats Health Fair at Hancock Regional Hospital.
It was the first time Nichols attended the health fair, where she took advantage of the opportunity to get blood work done for just $30.
The event was well-organized and hospital staff was friendly and professional, said Nichols, adding she was surprised by the booths of organizations and businesses arranged around the lower-level lobby and classrooms.
People who attended said it took between 20 and 45 minutes to get through the stations set up for blood work throughout the hospital.
For most attendees, the event is perfectly routine and doesn’t uncover any serious health issues, said Steve Long, Hancock Regional Hospital CEO. But occasionally hospital staff catch a serious illness that may have gone undetected if not for the event.
“Every year, we do some screenings and find a few people who have serious problems they didn’t know about, and if we can find a few people like that per year, it’s worthwhile,” he said.
More than 1,600 tests were performed during the event, Long said.
Dozens of booths were set up to offer information to guests, including the Greenfield Lions Club, which offered a free vision screening, a service the group has made available a the event for years, said hospital volunteer Ruth Morgan.
Harrell Correll sat at a booth representing the Indiana Organ Donor Network accompanied by a large photo of a woman named Amy, whose organ donation saved his life in 2014. Correll had a successful liver transplant at Indiana University Health Hospital in Indianapolis, and after he recovered, he began volunteering to raise awareness and encourage people to be organ donors.
He said there are more than 122,000 people on the organ transplant wait list, and 22 of those people die every day while waiting for the organs they need.
“That’s a pretty bad number, considering one donor can save eight lives,” he said.
Several other organizations sought people to sign up as volunteers.
Teresa Lueder, director of the Andis Women’s and Children’s Department at the hospital, and Mikel Theobald were at the Heartbeats festival representing Prevent Child Abuse Hancock County.
They were not only seeking new members for their organization, but also there promoting PURPLE crying, a concept that helps parents or guardians understand why babies cry.
Babies born at the hospital this year are receiving handmade purple hats, and their parents are receiving information about PURPLE crying to help prevent shaking or harming the baby out of frustration, Lueder said.
“We used to teach about Shaken Baby Syndrome, and just say, you know, ‘Never shake a baby!’” she said. “But the teaching has shifted to say that it’s not unusual for babies to cry for no reason. PURPLE teaches the why behind things.”
While people who attended the Heartbeats Health Fair said the booths were a plus to the event, people were mainly there for the health screenings.
Earl Smith of Hancock County attended for the first time and said it was a worthwhile event.
Danna Hutto of Hamilton County goes to the event every year.
Hutto and her family have attended the health festival for years to take advantage of the low-cost screenings. The hospital sends their paperwork back to their Hamilton County physicians.
Pat Ringer, a county resident who had the blood chemistry and thyroid screenings done, said she has attended the health fair repeatedly.
“I think it’s a fantastic service they offer to the community,” she said.
Hospital officials are pleased people continue to come to the health fair after more than three decades, Long said.
“It shows that they value the services we provided today, but also that they value us for providing them,” he said.