Health, well­ness on the menu at Mo­he­gan Sun

To­tal Life Expo fea­tures screen­ings, cook­ing, fit­ness demon­stra­tions

The Day - - REGION - By JU­LIA BERGMAN Day Staff Writer

Mo­he­gan — Michael White worked in car­di­ol­ogy for 27 years, and no­ticed a dis­tinct change in pa­tient be­hav­ior dur­ing that time.

“It used to be if you had chest pain, you’d run to the doc­tor,” White said.

Now, peo­ple will wait months be­fore go­ing to the doc­tor, at which point there’s of­ten fewer op­tions for treat­ment.

“Peo­ple come in with pain, open wounds, black toes,” he said. “If we catch some of it ear­lier, we can pre­vent am­pu­ta­tion, that’s what it’s about.”

White, di­rec­tor of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at The Vas­cu­lar Ex­perts: South­east­ern CT Vas­cu­lar Cen­ter, said that was the point of of­fer­ing free vas­cu­lar dis­ease screen­ings Satur­day as part of the Cham­ber of Com­merce of Eastern Con­necti­cut’s “To­tal Life Expo” at Mo­he­gan Sun, which also fea­tured dozens of ven­dors and cook­ing and fit­ness demon­stra­tions.

As of 1:30 p.m., about 50 peo­ple, rang­ing in age from twen­ties to nineties, went through the quick vas­cu­lar ul­tra­sound. About 75 per­cent of them said it was their first time get­ting that kind of screen­ing, White said.

The Un­cas Health Dis­trict Med­i­cal Re­serve Corps part­nered with the nurs­ing pro­gram at Three Rivers Com­mu­nity Col­lege to per­form blood pres­sure screen­ings.

Nurs­ing stu­dents had screened about 75 peo­ple, as young as 23 and as old as 73, as of 1:45 p.m. High blood pres­sure, which can lead to stroke and other se­ri­ous health prob­lems, is known as “the silent killer” be­cause peo­ple don’t know they have high blood pres­sure be­cause they don’t ex­hibit any symp­toms.

Jim La­tourette, 84, of Quaker Hill

said he usu­ally has his blood pres­sure checked once a week at his lo­cal se­nior cen­ter, but de­cide to take ad­van­tage of that and the vas­cu­lar dis­ease screen­ing while tour­ing the expo. He has high blood pres­sure and vas­cu­lar prob­lems, and while he’s seen a physi­cian about both, he said he was “steered in the di­rec­tion of help” on Satur­day for his vas­cu­lar is­sues.

Lori Bernier, a pri­mary therapist at Natchaug Hospi­tal in Mans­field, was man­ning a booth that gave free men­tal health screen­ings. Eleven peo­ple vis­ited the booth. Karen Colt, an em­ployee of Rivereast Treat­ment Cen­ter in Ver­non, part of Natchaug Hospi­tal, said she’s done men­tal health screen­ings at the expo for three years, and she’s no­ticed peo­ple are cu­ri­ous to get in­for­ma­tion but re­luc­tant to fill out an as­sess­ment form.

“They’ll talk but ac­tu­ally fill­ing out the form is dif­fi­cult,” Colt said.

Some have walked by, seen the “de­pres­sion” sign hang­ing above the booth and quickly looked away, she said, which shows while the stigma around men­tal health has less­ened, it still ex­ists.

“It’s like any other dis­ease,” she said. “Peo­ple don’t hes­i­tate to talk at the swim­ming pool about their car­dio­vas­cu­lar is­sues or eczema.”

Bernier also was alert­ing peo­ple to a pro­gram she runs at the hospi­tal for adults 55 and older who are strug­gling with men­tal ill­ness or sub­stance abuse.

“You don’t think of se­niors as hav­ing sub­stance abuse prob­lems but it can be a big is­sue for peo­ple with a lot of time on their hands and no reg­u­lar rou­tine,” Colt said.

They also can strug­gle with chronic ill­nesses that keep them iso­lated at home, she said, or feel lone­li­ness due to the loss of a part­ner or friend.

DANA JENSEN/THE DAY

He­len Ouimette, top left, of H. Seren­ity uses Thai Yoga body therapy while she helps Wendy McLean of Gro­ton in the Relaxation Sta­tions sec­tion of the To­tal Life Expo at Mo­he­gan Sun’s Sky Con­ven­tion Cen­ter on Satur­day.

DANA JENSEN/THE DAY

Robin Loy, cen­ter, leads the Sil­verSneak­ers in a fit­ness demon­stra­tion dur­ing the To­tal Life Expo at Mo­he­gan Sun’s Sky Con­ven­tion Cen­ter on Satur­day. Loy is the co­or­di­na­tor for the South­east­ern Con­necti­cut Sil­verSneak­ers fit­ness pro­gram with classes held at Rene­gade Fit­ness Clubs.

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