Brittney Van Kley (left) of Crown Point takes a bracelet and pamphlets from organ donar recipiant Megan Jorsch (right) as she visits the Organ Donation booth during the Nursing Honor Society sponsored annual healthcare event held at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond on Wednesday April 4, 2013. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 18, 2013 6:09AM
The importance of becoming an informed consumer when it comes to taking care of one’s health was taken a step further recently when Purdue University Calumet’s Sigma Theta Tau nursing honor society offered a public event called “The Smart Patient.”
“This event is intended to provide information that will benefit the public by keeping them safe and healthy in and out of the hospital,” said Joan Dorman, Purdue Calumet associate clinical professor and president of the nursing honor society. “I hope the guests leave feeling like they have learned so much. Each one will probably have their areas of special interest, but there is really something for everyone.”
Hundreds of visitors perused 17 tables loaded with information on illness prevention, chronic conditions, end-of life care, preventing infections and cancer care, among other topics. Free blood pressure screenings and blood sugar screenings also were available.
“I always pick up information about heart disease, and diabetes even though I don’t suffer from them, thank God,” said Hattie Mae King of Merrillville. “But we have a big family and some of our members have these diseases. I want to keep up with them.”
The idea for the public health event came to light after Dorman read the book, “The Smart Patient” by Dr. Mehmet Oz a few years ago.
“The theme for this book was that patients need to be educated on what to expect from healthcare,” she said. “I agree with that wholeheartedly, and I also believe that they need to know how to avoid hospitalization.”
“I love these health fairs,” said Hammond accountant Janey Josten. “You never know what you’ll find out. And it may be something super important for you or someone you know.”
Jeanine Hartman agrees with King that even if a person isn’t personally touched by a disease or illness, there’s usually someone in his or her inner circle who is.
“Talking with the professionals here and Purdue’s students gives me comfort that our area is keeping up with the latest in medical issues,” Hartman said, as she stopped at the booth representing Methodist Hospital’s Patient Advocates. “Many people don’t have the opportunity to get all this information in one place at one time.”
Hammond Library co-workers Zora Ludwig and Jennifer Bull took time for a brief survey and hands-on task with PUC’s nursing students, who used their Capstone nursing class as the background to provide a checklist of Internet website health topic resources. Two laptop computers were set up at this station.
“I’ve used Medline Plus quite a bit before, and it’s nice to know that there are many other similar sites available,” Ludwig said, as she looked over the list and began her search. “It’s important to know how we can become more pro-active, rather than re-active, with our health.”
Among out-of-the-ordinary topics was a seminar on “How to Prevent a Fall.”
Everyone knows about putting extension cords out of our way and not to walk on wet floors, but they don’t always pay attention to other things around them that can cause a fall, according to Susan Courtright of Hammond.
“When I saw this topic on the large board set up by the nursing students, I remember an incident that happened to me last year,” she said. “I had boxes piled high on an open shelf in my kitchen and when I went to reach for something, they came down and I lost my balance. Be aware of everything around you, don‘t just look on the floor.”