News » GW Health Village Draws Crowds at NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo

GW Health Village Draws Crowds at NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo

Thousands of Washington, D.C., area residents streamed through the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in January to take part in the annual two-day NBC4-Telemundo44 Health & Fitness Expo. 
The expo featured health exhibitors from throughout the area – including the GW Health Village, hosted by the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), GW Hospital, and the GW Medical Faculty Associates.

At the GW Health Village, expo attendees were able to take advantage of a variety of offerings, including but not limited to balance assessments/fall prevention, blood pressure screenings, foot and ankle exams, oral cancer screenings, integrative health education, and more.

In addition, presentations peppered both days of the expo, with Keith Mortman, MD, director of thoracic surgery and associate professor of surgery at SMHS, presenting on hyperhidrosis; Joseph Goodman, MD, RESD ’12, a head and neck surgeon at the GW Cancer Center and assistant professor of surgery, discussing oral cancer; Wayne Olan, MD, director of interventional and endovascular neurosurgery and assistant professor of neurological surgery at SMHS, talking about stroke intervention; and even a healthy cooking demonstration. 

“Getting out into the community like this is something we do every opportunity we get,” Mortman said amid the noise and bustle of the event. “Helping educate the public about the various conditions that we treat is very important.”

At the thoracic surgery booth in the health village a nurse navigator was busy talking with patients who may be at risk for lung cancer and educating attendees about new screening options using a low-dose CT scan. In addition, demonstrations were given on the use of 3D in thoracic surgery, allowing people to put on a VR headset and see what it looks like to take a walk through the chest and see a tumor.

Janette Rodrigues, administrative director for the Office of Integrative Medicine and Health, noted the importance of being at the expo to help grow awareness of all the amazing offers from GW, including in the area of integrative medicine.  

SMHS student volunteers put their education into practice at the expo, taking advantage of the chance to interact with patients out in the community. 

“This is such a great opportunity to integrate what I am learning at school and to provide a service to help people,” said third-year MD student Alec Straughan. “It’s always fun to take what you’re learning in the classroom and on clinical rotations and apply that in a way that can help people.”

Straughan spent much of Saturday morning helping with oral cancer screening and prevention. “I’ve been helping with physical exams and taking histories on people who would like to be screened for oral cancer, as well as offering education on the risks for oral cancer and how to prevent it,” he said.

Members of the SMHS chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society also were at the event to talk about the organization’s goal of improving health care through placing values and human dignity at the center of care.

Betel Yibrehu and Jaisree Iyer, fourth-year MD students, were at the event with a special mission: to find out from attendees the traits they would want in a health care provider. The students filled the answers in on slips of paper they hope to place in the white coat pockets of future students. 

“Many people have said they would look for a physician who is a good listener. People are expressing wanting to feel like their doctors are taking time to be with them and for them to be compassionate as well,” Yibrehu said.  

The GW Ron & Joy Paul Kidney Center also had a booth in the GW Health Village that offered blood pressure, BMI, and A1c screenings, as well as opportunities for at-risk patients to make appointments to get their kidneys screened. 

“It has been nonstop today,” said GW Ron & Joy Paul Kidney Center Executive Director Jennifer Arigo, MBA, CAE, with a laugh. “We are thrilled to have these opportunities to get out into the community and spread awareness and educate about prevention, because the more individuals know the more they can be proactive in taking care of their health.”

GW physical therapists also were on hand to conduct balance assessments and fall prevention. Patients could take different tests such as standing on one leg with eyes open or other more challenging positions. 

“If someone comes and does a task and their balance is off, we ask more questions to what might be a root cause of the imbalance, whether it’s just with one side or whether it’s with their eyes closed or open, and that could give us more information on their condition,” said GW Hospital physical therapist Kevin Keating, DPT ’18. “This might lead us to recommend them to get an evaluation with a physical therapist for a deeper assessment.”

“It’s fantastic to be here,” he added looking around at the crowds of people. “Interacting with people who just need a little help or to give advice, it’s definitely a great event.”