BRISTOL – Health professionals and area residents gathered at Bristol Eastern High School Saturday to spread awareness, network and hold health screenings as part of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce Family Health and Wellness Expo.
Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce Marketing and Communications Director Katie D’Agostino jokingly called the event the “fifth and a half” annual expo because a year had to be taken off due to the pandemic.
Around 60 local vendors placed their tables about the halls and cafeteria of the school. Bristol Health, Hartford Healthcare, Wheeler Health, area nursing homes and several other health-centered organizations distributed information and engaged with potential patients interested in their services.
“We’ve a variety of health professions, even from insurance companies,” said Chambers CEO Cindy Bombard. “Since the doors opened, it’s been non-stop people coming in. It’s been great.”
Chambers staff emphasized the importance of health screening opportunities at the event.
“Some people don’t realize what is available in our area,” said Bombard. “There are a lot of nonprofit organizations that do good wellness and preventative services for residents. There’s a wealth of information.”
Bristol CERT Team Captain Michael Vito Montelli said the expo and other outreach events were vital to the team’s education efforts as well as recruitment for volunteers.
“It’s a great benefit to the community with the different amounts of people talking about anything from blood pressure to emergency preparedness,” he said. “We can actually speak to the public. We’re not on an activation, so to speak, where we’re out in the field. We can actually communicate with the community when they come in.”
The Bristol CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) has been most recently noted for its help in distributing pandemic-related supplies and food giving events.
Jason Fields of the Exchange Club of Bristol said the group often assists concession efforts to raise funds for scholarships supporting area students.
“We enjoy it and the Chambers always requests that we come and serve food here and at the Home Show,” he said. “Everything goes back to our scholarships and other events throughout the year. It’s good for the community to know what resources are out there.”
Noah Goldvlatt, Wheeler Health social worker, sees students in the Bristol Public Schools system and assists them with individual, family and group outpatient therapy.
“Helping kids with anxiety, depression and trauma, you name it, we work through it,” said Goldvlatt.
Wheeler Health Vice President of Marketing Communications and Philanthropic Giving John Sponauer said he felt that in Connecticut in the last 10 to 15 years there had been a great push in the state to focus on the mental health and wellbeing of children.
“Especially in these times, when we’re dealing with so much confusion and anxiety, I think Connecticut is a leader and we’re ahead of the curb in a lot of areas compared to the rest of the country in how we take care of our kids,” he said.