Saturday's Binational Health Fair draws hundreds

Scores of Sonoma Valley residents gathered at the Binational Health Fair on Saturday, Oct. 19, where they received information about health care and were connected with the Mexican Consulate.

The event, which was hosted by La Luz Center at Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley, is part of the Mexican Consulate’s Binational Health Week that seeks to improve the health of underserved Latinos living in the U.S. and Canada by providing access to and creating awareness of various community health and human service agencies.

The health fair is vital to members of the underserved community, according to Patricia Talbot, who started the health fair in Sonoma a decade ago, because it not only provides access to service providers but also knowledge of important issues affecting members of the at-risk community. Talbot, who is a registered nurse and health-care consultant, serves as chair of Sonoma Valley Health Round Table, which aims to support the health of the Valley and through a network of health organizations collaborates to ensure residents’ health.

This was the first time the Mexican Consulate partnered with the health fair, said Kara Olness-Reyes, La Luz Center’s director of programs, which, she believes, may have contributed to the event’s high attendance.

With more than 240 participants attending the health fair, and even more visiting the consulate for expedited passports and government-issued IDs, Olness-Reyes said the attendance doubled from what it has been in past years. Residents attending the meeting not only had access to information, but also were able to receive medical treatment, including flu shots donated by Sonoma Valley Hospital, dental and pediatric screenings, and advice from bilingual nutritionists.

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