United to Serve community health fair draws strong turnout

If the United to Serve Health Fair at nearby Thomas J. Rusk Middle School had required a ticket to attend, it would have been considered a sellout.

More than 800 people registered at the front desk of United to Serve, jamming the middle school’s halls from the health fair’s 9 a.m. opening until its 2 p.m. closing. The event, which students from UT Southwestern’s three schools plan and staff with assistance from faculty members and staffers across campus, is a community outreach initiative in its 14th year at the Dallas middle school on Inwood Road.

The health screenings area, where members of the mostly underserved Dallas community went to get screened for everything from blood pressure to cholesterol to vision and dental health, continued to be popular throughout the day.

In the past, it wasn’t unusual for the crowds to dwindle so much near event closing time that student and volunteer crews could start cleaning up early. This year, the halls were still packed at 2, with people anxious to take part in activities.

In the bicycle safety area, the Texas Medical Association (TMA) provided 150 free helmets, which were all gone by early afternoon.

“As usual, the bicycle safety area was well-attended,” said Al-Karim Gilani, a first-year medical student and TMA student chapter President. “We know that year in and year out people make it a point to get their kids here to get them fitted for safety. It’s been very steady.”

“Considering the weather, which was iffy all day, the event was a great success,” said second-year medical student Sarah Yuen. “We had a lot of people, and they were still coming through the doors at 1:45 p.m.”

Teaching demonstrations and educational booths were also popular. Prosthetics-Orthotics students from the UT Southwestern School of Health Professions shared the latest in prosthetic limbs, while other students taught children about fire safety, including how to get out of a burning building. Attendees also learned how to properly use sunscreen to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

As usual, United to Serve’s fundraising arm received a large amount of assistance from Dallas businesses. In a day filled with special drawings for door prizes, United to Serve and its partners awarded close to 200 prizes, including gift cards for bookstores, restaurants, and retail stores.

UT Southwestern students spent a year organizing United to Serve. After the event, student leaders handed it off to next year’s organizing team, which has already begun planning meetings for 2019.

The Dallas Independent School District supports the endeavor by making the school available and by publicizing the event to students across the district.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 16 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The faculty of more than 2,700 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients, 600,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 2.2 million outpatient visits a year.