Heart walk, health fair set

Published 9:15 pm Monday, March 2, 2015

A heart walk and health fair at Sentara Obici Hospital on March 7 is designed for anybody and everybody to come and learn more about their health, cardiac patient navigator Ross Reitz said.

“We have things for everybody,” Reitz said. “Our focus is the heart, and heart health does affect everybody.”

The cornerstone of the event is the heart walk, which will — weather permitting — take place on the track around the perimeter of the hospital, Reitz said.

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But in keeping with the theme of accessibility for all, a shorter indoor walk and chair exercises will take place during the walk for those who aren’t able to do the longer distance.

“This is something for everybody, so we’re still continuing to stay active,” Reitz said.

In addition to the heart walk, the health fair aims to help educate and improve people’s health through a variety of screenings and more.

Screenings will include things related to heart health, such as for diabetes and blood pressure, as well as for hearing and other screenings.

“That’s not a screening people commonly get,” Reitz said of the hearing screenings.

Information on how to use Medicare and Medicaid benefits wisely will be offered, as well as options for insurance offered by the Affordable Care Act.

Reitz said one of the most exciting aspects of the event is the launch of a new menu that shows people heart-healthy dishes at local restaurants.

“One of the big problems in trying to be healthy that we found with our clients is people will do everything right at home, but then family comes in and you just want to go out to eat,” Reitz said. “Social health is just as important as physical health, but we kind of make those competing goals.”

It doesn’t have to be that way, Reitz said. The new menu already has six restaurants on board.

“What we have started to do is go to the local restaurants and not ask them to change anything, but identify what our heart failure patients can eat,” Reitz said.

To promote the new menu, gift certificates to the participating restaurants will be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis at the event, Reitz said.

Guest speakers at the event also will describe how changes they have made in their health behaviors have influenced their health for the better.

“One of the things I’m really excited about is that people who have really taken to heart some of the heart healthy practices and seen a change in their heart are going to speak,” Reitz said. “We never get to see the people that actually did it.”

The March 7 event will take place from 10 a.m. to noon at the hospital, 2800 Godwin Blvd. Call Reitz at 934-4940 for more information.