Regis helps usher in return of health fairs, offering care to the community

After three years of inactivity and pandemic-related cancellations, health fairs are back — and Regis students are leading the way in providing accessible health care to the community.

On March 11, Regis hosted its first 365 Health Fair — formerly known as 9Health Fair — since 2019, welcoming the community to campus for free and affordable health screenings. As participants made their way through stations set up in St. Peter Claver, S.J., Hall on Saturday, they were greeted in each room by Regis students and faculty and 365 Health representatives who offered a range of health screenings, from diabetes risk assessments to vision tests.

The fair, which served 186 community members, was the result of more than a year of planning in coordination with the 365 Health organization.

For second-year Doctor of Physical Therapy student Aryn Cunningham, who helped organize the event, the health fair aligned with her passion for providing equal access to care.

“As a physical therapist, I think it really ties into the Jesuit value of cura personalis,” Cunningham said. “This is how we give back to the community.”

As a result of the fair, providers caught health issues that will allow people to seek the care they need. Of the 62 people who had their blood pressure taken, 21 had readings considered higher than optimal. Additionally, of the 25 people who signed up for diabetes risk assessment, 13 needed further evaluation.

Both Regis faculty and students offered support for these early prevention efforts, giving students the chance to impact community health.

For just less than a year, Cunningham and another second-year Doctor of Physical Therapy student, Samantha Davis, worked closely with the Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions Service Learning staff to organize the event. Cunningham oversaw marketing efforts and volunteers, and Davis supervised logistics, including compiling fair maps and ensuring that protocols were up to date.

The number of service hours Cunningham and Davis received far exceeded the requirement for the program. For Davis, who is from Alaska and plans to return to the state to serve rural populations, the extra hours were worthwhile. 

“There are just a lot of rural populations in Alaska that really need health care, and I would love to be able to incorporate things like this so that they have access,” Davis said.

Cheryl Schwartz, senior director of RHCHP Service Learning and Global Health, said all Regis students who participated in the fair received service-learning credit. Every year, nearly 3,000 students complete service-learning hours that include service to the community and work in the classroom — a requirement that sets the college apart from other health professions schools. The fair included students and faculty from the Bachelor of Science in nursing, and the Family Nurse Practitioner, Doctor of Physical Therapy and the Doctor of Pharmacy programs.

“Our students can really make a difference in health care across the board through these experiences,” Schwartz said. “But also, we want to create a mindset of service to go over and beyond for your patients.”

Gary Drews, president and CEO of 365 Health, said that after the struggle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company needed to rethink how it serves the community. The organization now offers access to doctors 24/7 and has hosted nearly 700 COVID-19 vaccine clinics in two years. It’s partnerships with the community, including Regis, that make this possible, he said.

“Health happens every day of the year,” Drews said. “We have services available on a daily basis.”

Family Nurse Practitioner student Joe Lach agreed — the fair was an opportunity to give back.

“It's important to take these skills and give back to your community, and serve those that are less fortunate than us,” he said.

Learn more about Service Learning in the Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions.