By VERNON ROBISON
Everything from blood draws to balloons was offered to the attendees of the Mesquite Community Health Fair on Friday, Sept. 30 in the Event Center tent at the Casablanca Resort.
Sponsored by Mesquite Gaming, the corporate owner of the Casablanca and Virgin River properties, the event featured 85 vendors all dealing with health and wellness. A steady stream of hundreds of local residents from both Virgin and Moapa Valleys walked through the large space and interacted with the exhibitors.
“It has been great this year!” said Mesquite Gaming Benefits Director Deisy Duran who coordinates the annual event. “We have had really good feedback from attendees and people truly appreciate it. We are glad that we can bring it to the public.”
Duran said that she conceived of the idea of a health fair back in 2016 when she herself was struggling to find resources in raising her own son with autism. She thought that if those resources were difficult to find for her, there were probably many other health-related resources that Mesquite Gaming employees might be struggling with.
“In a small town, these resources can sometimes be hard to find,” Duran said. “But there are options out there. If people don’t know about them, then they might resign themselves to just going without the help they need. That isn’t good.”
The health fair was planned to showcase those options specifically for Mesquite Gaming employees.
“Initially the plan was that we would hold the health fair just for our employees,” Duran said. “But the decision was quickly made that we should open it up to the entire community. It was a good decision.”
The health fair has been a hit from the very beginning. That first year there were only around 20 vendors, Duran said.
“This venue was way too big for us back then,” Duran said.
But the attendance from local residents was strong. So Duran has stuck with the event, growing it a little each year.
On Friday, the hall was filled with a wide variety of vendors and service providers.
Jennifer Strobel, Executive Director of the Families for Effective Autism Treatment was at a vendor table talking to attendees about the resources that this organization has for families affected by autism. Many of those resources are free of cost to the family.
“We are able to talk to these families, educate them about autism and help them to navigate the system of care,” Strobel said. “So many of these families feel isolated and don’t know where to go for help. We have a literal army of other parents throughout southern Nevada who can provide support.”
The Richens Eye Center had a table where Opthamologist Brenda Jones was in attendance speaking with the public. Lorena Lemus was offering free eye exams and screenings for macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts at the table.
“If we can catch those conditions early and treat them then we ca prevent them from being much worse later,” Lemus said.
Mesa View Regional Hospital was offering free blood tests and screenings including a full metabolic panel and a Hepatic Function panel. In attendance was Robert Goode, lab director at the hospital’s new lab facility. Goode said that one of the biggest challenges in getting the new lab up and running has been finding the people to staff it.
“We are willing to work with people to get them up to speed,” he said. “If someone has a certificate in phlebotomy we will train them to be lab technicians and establish a career ladder for them.”
Lisa Tunison from Intermountain Health Care was in attendance touting the company’s “My Generation” clinic in Mesquite. She explained that the clinic is geared toward Medicare Advantage patients to give them a higher level of care. This includes doctors spending more time consulting with the patients.
“Our average appointment time is around 30 minutes,” Tunison said.
Hundreds of dollars in prizes were raffled off to the public at the event. These included gift cards, baskets, a bicycle, a smart TV and even a gun safe. All of these were provided by the vendors at the event.