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Biggest-Ever Health Fair Is Also Best Ever

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"There is something for everyone at the NIH Health Fair," said NIH director Dr. Harold Varmus in his remarks at the kickoff program of the "NIH Health Fair: Good Health Begins Here." A record number of more than 1,500 employees and visitors participated in the recent event held in the Clinical Center.

Noting that this year's health fair was the largest ever with 34 booths, Varmus said that promotion of good health habits among employees directly affects the quality of worklife and the missions of NIH and HHS.


Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, NIH deputy director, prepares to cut the ribbon to open the NIH Health Fair. Looking on are (from l) Susanne Strickland, director of the Worksite Health Promotion Program in the Office of Disease Prevention, Linda Witt, special assistant to the health fair chair, and James Hadley, chair of the health fair planning committee and coordinator of the event.

"This is an excellent way for each of us to make a commitment to better health," he said. Varmus urged employees to take full advantage of health screenings and information on such topics as mental health, elder care, safety, drug and alcohol abuse, nutrition, ergonomics and prevention and control of common diseases.

"The feedback from employees for this health fair has been overwhelmingly positive," said Susanne Strickland, chair of the worksite health promotion action committee (WHPAC). She said that participants gave the fair high marks in their evaluations.

"The NIH Health Fair is a win-win situation," noted James Hadley, chair of the fair planning committee and coordinator of the event. "It's good for employees and it's good for NIH."

Dr. Jaime Brahim of NIDR conducts an oral cancer screening exam.

He said the NIH Blood Bank gained 79 new donors from the health fair. Between 200 and 300 people were screened by NIDR for oral cancer and a few potential medical problems were discovered early and referred for followup. Out of the 41 people screened for skin cancer by NCI, 10 were referred for biopsy. NEI can be lauded for sending a few of the 162 participants screened for visual acuity scrambling for appointments with their eye doctors. The R&W Fitness Center gave away 240 free passes to try out fitness equipment at the center. NCI distributed nearly 1,500 bags of prunes as part of the Five a Day Better Health Program, which encourages increased consumption of fruits and vegetables.

An employee works out vigorously on the treadmill as he is coached by Jeff Withers of the R&W Fitness Center.

Photos: John Crawford

During the kickoff program, C.W. Metcalf, author of Lighten Up: Survival Skills for People Under Pressure, said people create a lot of their own stress and then pass it on to others. We create stress by how we view the world, seeing ourselves as the "center of the universe." We then convey this view of our own self-importance, and the responsibilities that go with it, in our interactions with others. He said we need to learn not to take ourselves too seriously, and to "lighten up."

Clinical Center nurses check the blood pressure of employees.

An initiative of WHPAC, the health fair is sponsored by the Office of Disease Prevention in cooperation with the ICs, R&W and FDA.

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