Eighty thousand people streamed through the Walter E. Washington Convention Center March 10 and 11 to take part in the annual two-day NBC4-Telemundo44 Health Expo. The expo, which is now in its 25th year, featured 250 exhibitors from the area’s health care organizations – including the George Washington University’s clinical partners, the GW Hospital, the GW Medical Faculty Associates, and the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences – in addition to medical vendors and fitness experts.
“Everyone from the very small juicer that has a storefront somewhere in D.C. to world-renowned physicians were there,” said J. Keith Melancon, MD, chief of the Division of Transplant Surgery, director of the Transplant Institute at GW Hospital, and professor of surgery at SMHS. “When people are searching for wellness, we’re brokers in that. We [at GW] are part of that community, and we need to be advocating for the health of our community.”
At the GW Health Village, for example, medical professionals screened more than 800 people for high blood pressure, and attendees were treated to a healthy cooking demonstration. Staff members of GW’s mobile Mammovan were on hand to explain the program’s outreach efforts in the city and answer questions about breast self-exams. In addition, GW Hospital’s innovative virtual reality technology was on display on the main stage, giving expogoers a glimpse into the Surgical Theater application that offers patients a three-dimensional peak into their brains. Doctors from the GW Ron and Joy Paul Kidney Center, including Melancon, interviewed patients, while in another part of the booth, attendees filled out screening forms for prostate and colon cancer. Podiatry, orthopedics, and weight management specialists also consulted with attendees who filtered through the GW Health Village booth.
This year’s GW participation featured third- and fourth-year medical students, members of the Gold Humanism Society, who posed the question, “What kind of person do you want your doctor to be?” Attendees wrote their answers on cards that will be placed in the pockets of the students’ white coats when they graduate.
“I tell people, and I’m being genuine and honest, the GW community embraces this [kind of outreach],” Melancon said. “It is part and parcel of what we do here at GW, and I’m proud of that.”