DeKALB – As women sauntered past her table at Kishwaukee Community Hospital on Friday, Laura Miley encouraged them to think FAST.
FAST, an acronym that helps stroke victims identify their symptoms and know when to seek medical help, is a test Miley said can help save lives. The acronym stands for Face, Arms, Speech and Time. If the face is drooping on one side, the arms are drifting downward when raised and speech is slurred, then time is critical, Miley said.
An emergency room nurse at Kishwaukee Community Hospital, Miley said strokes kill twice as many women each year as breast cancer.
Miley was among the nurses and hospital staff educating women on various health issues at the hospital’s third annual “This One’s for the Girls” expo, which continues today from 8 a.m. to noon. The event offered free health screenings, refreshments and raffle prizes for women throughout the community.
The hospital’s marketing and public relations specialist, Emily Roberts, said she expects more than 1,500 women to attend the two-day event. The expo, which has been in the works since November, has grown over the years.
The structure is similar to years’ past, but organizers have tried to add different screenings, booths and prizes this year.
“It’s a unique event because it’s fun, but it provides the health information that’s important for women to know,” Roberts said.
Although men experience some of the same health risks as women, Roberts said educating women is a priority.
SDLqWomen are the health decision-makers in the home,” she said. “So it’s important that they’re well-informed.”
Pat Cardinali, who has attended in years past, said she is one of those women who likes to be on top of the latest health information.
“It’s just good to come out and see if there’s anything new,” she said.
One of the stops Cardinali made was at the purse-weighing station, manned by Jessica Heck, a physical therapist at the hospital.
Although it might not seem like a health issue, a heavy purse can cause neck, shoulder and back strains in women. A woman’s purse shouldn’t weigh more than 15 percent of her body weight, Heck said. After weighing their purses Friday, many women found them to be heavier than recommended.
Whether it’s a stroke or a back strain, many of the hospital staff agreed the focus of the event was to simply raise awareness.
The expo has been a great opportunity for women to better understand their health and learn about potential risks, Miley said. She felt the event has allowed her to leave an impact on them, as well.
“We really have the ability to make a difference,” she said.