The two-fold goal of the event was to share information about health-related topics and encourage young students to consider a career in the medical field.
Dr. Bill Niederee, Great Bend veterinarian, touched on both when he participated in the Sixth Grade Health Fair recently at St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center.
“There are many animal-contact issues that are important,” Niederee told the sixth graders. “We need to know how to care for our pets, and how they can spread disease to humans and one another.”
Pet owners should have their animals neutered and vaccinated, said Niederee, owner of Countryside Veterinary Associates.
He also talked to the youngsters about the importance of service dogs for the blind and hearing impaired, and how they can be good companions for their human friends.
“In addition, animals can be comforting to residents of nursing homes and other health facilities,” Niederee commented. “They can offer companionship and have a calming effect.”
When Niederee switched the conversation to jobs in the health-care field, his first piece of advice was to “take as many science and math classes as possible. As a vet, I have to be an anesthesiologist, dermatologist, lab technician, surgeon and radiologist. If you don’t take the science and math classes as soon as you can, you could fall behind.”
Other speakers and topics were: Barton County Sheriff’s Office Detectives Rick Popp and Dave Paden discussing Internet safety and safe texting; Barton County Extension Office representatives Donna Krug and Bernie Unruh talking about healthy food choices; St. Rose Rehab Services representatives Jim Burke, Andrea Holinde, Kim Partlow, Samantha Pfeifer and Karina Salazar-Desantores focusing on body image and fitness; St. Rose cardio-pulmonary representatives Brandi Gruber and Lori Hammeke leading a hands-on discussion while students examined a human brain and other organs; and Pam Perry, Rehab Services director, and Meredith Joiner, executive director of physician clinics, concentrating on communication and listening skills.
Approximately 225 Great Bend sixth graders participated in the two-day event at St. Rose.
“The youngsters have always enjoyed this health fair and we were happy to sponsor it again this year,” said Gloria Siefkes, R.N. and diabetes educator at St. Rose. “At this age, they are curious about health-related topics and may be facing peer pressure to make unhealthy choices. We want them to have access to good, reliable information.”
Schools represented were Riley, Central Kansas Christian Academy, Holy Family, Jefferson, Eisenhower, Park and Lincoln.