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Glendale families receive free health services at community expo

Event provides free screening services for local children.

April 07, 2013|By Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com
  • Optometry Western University of Health Sciences' Shirley Bright, left, gives Arevik Mesropyan an eye exam during Family Health and Kids Fitness Expo, which took place at the Edison Pacific Community Center in Glendale on Saturday, April 6, 2013.
Optometry Western University of Health Sciences'… (Cheryl A. Guerrero…)

Glendale mother Poonam Desai has health insurance for her family. But her plan doesn't provide for vision or dental coverage.

So Desai brought her nine-year-old daughter to the fifth annual Family Health and Kids Fitness Expo, hosted by Glendale Healthy Kids on Saturday, because vision and dental services were available there, and at no cost.

In the gymnasium at the Pacific Edison Community Center where the event was held, members of the Northwest Glendale Lions Club facilitated free eye exams.

It was Desai's first time attending the expo.

"I was looking for something like this," she said.

She was also thankful of the event's casual atmosphere, in which clowns wearing curly red wigs blew up balloons for children or painted their faces between health screenings.

Unlike the doctor's office, where Desai has felt rushed to address questions in a limited time span to "busy doctors with too much pressure," she said, the expo presented an easy approach to healthcare.

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The Northwest Glendale Lions Club also gave away gift certificates issued by insurance companies to secure for patients appointments with an optometrist, and new glasses where needed.

"Often times, the people that we see come through here, they don't have an eye doctor. Some of them have never seen an eye doctor before," said Vincent Di Santis, a member of the Northwest Glendale Lion's Club.

Kids could also get free dental, scoliosis, height and weight screenings — "Something you would normally have to pay for," said Sharon Townsend, CEO of Glendale Healthy Kids.

Townsend had hoped the expo would attract at least 800 people on Saturday.

The nonprofit had worked since September to organize the event and spread the word to 13 communities surrounding Glendale.

Once the screenings were complete, the participants were referred to various doctors.

Glendale mother Liana Hayrapetyan brought her six-year-old son to the expo for a dental screening, just as she did last year.

As a dozen other kids played with each other before the dental screening, she said, "They love it here. It's kids having fun."

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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