More than 400 people turned out Friday afternoon at Mondawmin Mall in West Baltimore for free health screenings, consultations and advice on how to stay safe and healthy this summer.
The health fair, one of more than 60 held in the city by the University of Maryland Medical System throughout the year, offered information on cholesterol, HIV, fitness, diabetes, blood pressure and other issues that afflict residents of a city struggling to overcome health disparities.
"This event is important because it brings resources in and connects us with the community," said Anne Williams, director of community health improvement for University of Maryland Medical Center and its Midtown Campus. "We're happy to be a part of the community and really want to build trust in the community and hope that people know that we're here to serve them."
On the first floor of the mall, a fitness instructor led a group of people in a line dance routine. Vendors, including Midtown Primary Care, Philippine Nurses Association and Maryland Physicians Care, also greeted shoppers.
Michele Pearson, 51, stumbled across the health fair by surprise. Her plan was to visit Mondawmin Mall to refill her prescriptions at a pharmacy. She ended up staying longer to hula-hoop and dance. She also completed a mammogram screening and visited a nutritionist.
"All of these wonderful people I've talked to have been uplifting," Pearson said.
Angela Ginn, a certified diabetes educator at the University of Maryland Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology, said she saw 50 people between the ages of 20 and 70 visit her table. Millions of Marylanders may have pre-diabetes that can turn into Type 2 diabetes, she said.
At her "Rethink Your Drink" table, Ginn urged people to consume more water.
"Baltimore as a community can get healthier every day by just implementing healthier habits into their daily life," she said
Leonard Washington, 54, of Columbia was at the mall with a friend and decided to check out some of the information booths. He said fairs like these are great for people who can't afford medical care.
"Many people are walking around not knowing that they may have any medical issues," he said. "These screenings kind of gives them a heads-up and let them know that they need to follow through with any medical care that they might need."