Thousands Attend First UHS Health Fair

Eric C. Averion

UHS employees handed out evaluation sheets to students who attended UHS' first-ever Health Fair, held in a tent outside the Science Center.

University Health Services’ (UHS) first-ever health fair drew thousands of students yesterday, as Harvard health officials continued their community outreach push.

The “Harvest of Health” fair was aimed at helping students learn what health and safety resources are available to them in the community and at UHS.

“There are so many diverse programs and services that people don’t realize exist. It’s important that students understand UHS is not just a place to go to when you are sick,” said Kathi Tracy, UHS assistant director for clinical operations.

The 4,000-square-foot yellow-and-white UHS tent on the Science Center lawn had already drawn 1,500 students by 2:30 p.m.

The fair, which ran from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. showcased 18 booths with health educators who gave out free information, pamphlets and knickknacks. Free massages drew a long line, while a variety of snacks kept students lingering among the booths.

The Marino Center, a complimentary care facility in Cambridge with such alternative services as acupuncture, was represented at the fair. There was also a booth to address health insurance questions students might have.

Laura Delano ’05 said she came to the fair because her friends said it was informative. “I came in to check out services like acupuncture. Then I saw the Ask the Doctor table. I have a problem with my shins and he was able to refer me to another doctor,” she said.

While many students admitted they came to the fair for the free handouts, some ended up surprised by other extras.

“I came because I heard there were free toothbrushes to be had. Then I saw the massage booth. I had no idea that was available. UHS’s stock is certainly on the rise,” John M. Harrington ’03 said.

UHS has made a pointed effort over the last few years to be more visible in the Harvard community through outreaches such as free flu shots in the dininghalls and now, the Harvest of Health Fair.

“We want students to know that we’re faces, not just ‘The Holyoke Center,’” said Michael A. Hoyt, UHS coordinator of health promotion and outreach.

Regular appointments at UHS were blocked off for the entire day to allow clinicians to participate, though specialty physicians did keep scheduled appointments.

To ensure that the facilities at the Holyoke Center remained properly staffed, personel came to the fair in two-hour shifts.