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Health expo at Mercy College

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Paging all Bronxites: Mercy College wants to ensure you’re in tip-top shape.

The local college is bringing a health exposition for its first time on Nov. 2 at the Hutchinson Metro Center campus.

It’s called “Navigating Health,” a venue designed to ease the mindset of Bronxites leery of the health care system by breaking misconceptions or fears often linked to the industry.

The borough outranks the rest of the city in obesity, asthma and STD rates, according to state health figures. Mercy College, boasting undergraduate and graduate health studies programs, looks to chip away at those figures.

Lorraine Cashin, a Physician Assistant professor and program director at the school, sees the presentation as a meet-and-greet with the health care community while offering visitors a look at certain benefits that “make your life a healthier life.”

Colleague Kathleen Kenney-Riley, said the exposition is designed to eliminate the fear of visting the doctor, showing it to be a more “welcoming environment by saying ‘We’re here for you.’”

The exposition covers a list of health topics, such as the merits to preventative care, overcoming the fear of visiting the doctor and the new federal health care law still new to Bronxites. Mercy College will bring in state navigators to offer a breakdown of the law for those likely overwhelmed by it.

“We’re just stepping in as the middle person to help out,” said Cashin. “To help people who are entitled and don’t recognize it.”

Yoga and Zumba classes will also be available for guests along with information tables for any high school student mulling a career in the health care field. An activities map awaits the children, showing them all the hotspots to check out while at the expo.

The initiative is another attempt at breaking the health picture of the Bronx, which is currently at it’s worst in the city.

But fixing it is not an easy answer as socioeconomic status, language barriers and poor education often keep Bronxites from leading a healthier lifestyle.

Kenney-Riley, a health care practitioner for 25 years, suggests the medical industry should focus first on primary care throughout all hours of the day instead of the nine to five mold.

She argues many folks, particularly in the Bronx, simply don’t have the luxury of taking time off from work and missing a day’s pay.

On the flip side, Cashin has noticed her students respond to the needs of the borough, with many “non-native physician assistant students staying in the Bronx.”

“Now they’re working in Montefiore, now they’re in private practices or clinics,” said Cashin. “Because of their experience in the Bronx has really enlightened them into the needs of the Bronx.”

The expo runs from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and is free to the public.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383
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