Getting the pulse at the 2019 Hospital Health Fair

Annual community event was the largest in Hospital history.

Kyleen Keenan and Ray Whitaker of Patient Centric at the 2019 Hospital Health Fair.

The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital corridors were buzzing Saturday morning, and it wasn’t because a lot of people were sick or injured.

“So often, you walk into a hospital because you’re sick,” said Erin Tilton, assistant development director at the hospital. “This is a way for people to come in and learn about our services when they’re feeling healthy.”

This year’s Hospital Health Fair was the largest in its history. Seventy-five booths occupied all wings and corners of the hospital from 8 am to noon, demonstrating the latest information and technology across hospital services, including nutrition education, senior services, youth support, immunization facts, family planning, and more. Hospital staff as well as representatives from invested groups such as M.V. Community Services, M.V. Boys and Girls Club, and American Red Cross manned the booths. A steady stream of visitors filtered in and out of the corridors all morning long. Visitors participated in weight screenings, blood pressure, acupuncture, health quizzes, and an event-wide bingo tournament. Even kids had plenty to do.

Ty Romijn, an acupuncturist at Vineyard Complementary Medicine, administered free ear point acupuncture throughout the morning. “It down-regulates the nervous system,” Romijn said. “It heals the trauma brain.”

Vineyard Complementary Medicine did posture screenings.

Patient Centric M.V., the Island’s only medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation business, also had a booth. Staffers Kyleen Keenan and Ray Whitaker informed curious fairgoers about the different health benefits and uses of marijuana. “We’re trying to let people know we’re here,” Whitaker said. “We want to break down some of those initial stereotypes that come with marijuana.”

“We also want to educate people on plant-based medicine,” Keenan added.

Their booth was positioned next to Dr. Terry Kriedman’s, an ob-gyn affiliated with the hospital. She’s one of the only Island physicians that can prescribe patients a Medical Marijuana Card. She informed visitors on the steps they can take to acquire one.

Hospital dietician Mary Gross administered the latest information in the world of nutrition. “I’m covering the basics this year,” Gross said. “Caloric needs, basic eating, and general health tips.” She had a portion distortion quiz for fairgoers to take, which looked at how portions and caloric intake have changed over the years.

The hospital’s substance use disorder team distributed information about their 24-hour consultation services. Representatives from Vineyard House, Narcotics Anonymous, and Howie Marlin’s “Addiction — Got a Minute?” screening also had booths, giving visitors a look at the wide array of recovery services available.

Erin Tilton has been the fair’s leading organizer for the past 15 years. It’s usually held in February, but Tilton said they wanted to change the month so they could shift the theme: “Springing into good health,” she said.

The health fair was broadcast live on MVY Radio with host Laurel Redington. She interviewed nurses and other hospital staff, so even those who couldn’t attend Saturday’s fair could get a feel for its pulse.