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Free Auburn Gresham Health Fair Spotlights 'Health Desert' in Neighborhood

By Wendell Hutson | September 25, 2013 4:40pm
 A free, outdoor health fair is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013 on 79th Street between Racine Avenue and May Street.
A free, outdoor health fair is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013 on 79th Street between Racine Avenue and May Street.
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AUBURN GRESHAM — As the city tries to eliminate "food deserts" by opening more grocers in neighborhoods without any, one group is holding a health fair to fight another problem: "Health deserts.''

The Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation is sponsoring a free fair Thursday to provide basic health services that are not readily available to residents, said Tenisha Jones, director of education for the group.

"The closest hospital to Auburn Gresham is Little Company of Mary in [south suburban] Evergreen Park," she said. "That makes this area a 'health desert,' which is not good especially if you already have health issues. Little things like getting your blood pressure checked becomes a problem when there are limited health facilities available."

The bi-annual health fair runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday on 79th Street, between Racine Avenue and May Street. The last health fair was in May when 300 people attended, according to Jones.

CVS, Walgreens and other vendors will also be at the fair providing free services, such as screenings for blood pressure, heart disease, breast cancer, cholesterol, prostate cancer, HIV and other elements, Jones said.

One of the organization's main goals is to get a hospital for Auburn Gresham, which Jones sees as a huge problem to people who rely on public transportation.

Little Company is 4.1 miles away from the nonprofit's office at 1159 W. 79th St. The next closest hospital is South Shore Hospital, 8012 S. Crandon Ave., which is 4.5 miles away.

There are, however, health clinics in Auburn Gresham that can address some needs, including the Take Care Clinic inside a Walgreens at 1213 W.79th St. And since 2009 a health clinic inside Perspective Middle Academy, 8131 S. May St. has been open to the public, said Shayla Butler, external affairs project manager for Perspective Charter Schools.

The clinic is operated by the Access Community Health Network and is a big asset to the community, said Sauda Porter, principal at Perspectives Middle Academy.

“By bringing the health center to our school building, the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation is helping us meet the holistic needs of our students and the community,” Porter said.