The Northern Indiana Hispanic Health Coalition (NIHHC), in partnership with Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church, Bowen Center, Grace College and the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH), provided free health screenings and flu shots at We Care Warsaw on Saturday, Nov. 12 at Gordon Health & Wellness Center.

There were 850 people who attended the event.

All health screenings were offered free of cost to community members. Of the people in attendance, 105 people received health screenings, 77% of them Hispanic. Thanks to the support of Bowen Center, 120 flu shots were given to adults and children ages 5 and older. Services were offered to any community member, with no appointment or doctor’s referral needed.

Bowen Center, who donated the flu shots, administered the vaccines. Joanne Mickley, director of nursing at Bowen Center, was pleased with the great response, given the early rise in influenza activity nationwide.

With public health experts warning of a potentially severe season of respiratory illnesses, including flu, R.S.V. and COVID-19, it is critical to get vaccinated now, especially for vulnerable populations, according to a news release from NIHHC.

Health screenings included cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, BMI, waist circumference, and A1C. 633 total health screenings were given, and 60 COVID-19 home testing kits were distributed. NIHHC Executive Director Liliana Quintero was also pleased that community members recognized the importance of maintaining preventative health screenings.

“As the pandemic disrupted our lives, many of us put off getting regular screenings, or there have been increased or new barriers to accessing them,” she said. “When we don’t identify and manage health conditions, it can be life threatening and costly.”

“This was clearly reflected on Saturday,” Quintero continued, “as 71% were in Stage 1 or 2 of hypertension, and 8% were at risk of suffering from diabetes, with levels over 200. Some of the attendees knew that they were diabetic, but it was clearly not under control.”

Attendees received their results immediately, as well as education on those results. NIHHC’s bilingual trained volunteers and staff, including medical professionals, certified community health workers, and Spanish students from Grace College, helped attendees understand their health screening results and determine next steps.

To help address transportation needs, NIHHC distributed a $15 gas gift card to all those who receive a flu shot. Free health screenings and flu shots in accessible locations at convenient times helps ensure health needs can be met, the release states.

The turnout reflects the coordinated outreach efforts of NIHHC and Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church. Through NIHHC’s culturally sensitive services and education, community members are empowered to make informed decisions about their health. Hispanics, in particular, are disproportionately uninsured and impacted by underlying conditions that can exacerbate illness. Thus, partnerships with community organizations help NIHHC reach the community to work in prevention and/or make them aware of ways to control their chronic conditions.

NIHHC is grateful to Bowen Center, Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church, IDOH, Grace College and NIHHC staff. A total of 23 staff and volunteers made this event possible, including five students from Grace College, who were using their Spanish skills during the event while running BMI and blood pressure screenings. Together, the community can ensure access to health care services and improved health outcomes for all.

The Northern Indiana Hispanic Health Coalition’s mission is to provide preventative health care programs to the communities of Elkhart, Kosciusko, Noble and Marshall counties through education, advocacy, physician referral, and research, so that they may lead healthier lifestyles.