Ten years ago, maybe five people would visit the Steamboat Mental Health Center table at the 9Health Fair.
Near the end of the fair on Saturday, almost 70 people had stopped by to gather information about depression and other mental health issues, said Rita Rhodes, a clinical social worker with the organization.
"We've had lots of people asking really good questions," she said. "It has been a really good health fair."
The 9Health Fair, held for more than 20 years in Steam--boat Springs, has been an important platform for organizations to get the word out about medical services available in the Yampa Valley.
It also is a convenient op--portunity for residents to get affordable updates on many health issues.
Yampa Valley Medical Cen--ter sponsored the event, held at Steamboat Springs Middle School.
More than 100 hospital volunteers and medical professionals from throughout the community provided health information and conducted free screenings for foot, skin, vision, dental, lung and other problems.
"The ease of getting all of these screenings is beneficial," said Patti Retz, a regular attendee who made a point of getting in line early for the foot check. "A lot of these you wouldn't get at a regular checkup."
Retz was among attendees who also had their blood drawn for a $30 fee. For several years, YVMC has allowed people to have their blood drawn about two weeks early so test results would be available at the fair, said Christine McKelvie, director of public relations for the hospital.
More than 400 people took advantage of that service this year. Health care professionals were on hand Saturday to help participants understand blood test results.
Tests for blood glucose and blood count and prostate and colorectal cancer also were available at the fair.
Health care volunteers did not diagnose problems at the fair, but they did make recommendations for further medical attention, McKelvie said.
"Sometimes, it's peace of mind, sometimes its education," she said.
Saturday was the fourth 9Health Fair for Richard and Roxie Miles, who had their posture, balance and strength tested by volunteers from the Center for Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Richard Miles said the blood tests and various screenings are an opportunity to identify issues the couple should mention to their doctor during regular physicals.
The fair also provided a casual atmosphere for those who may avoid the doctor, said Barbara Bronner, a clinical social worker who provided information about Alzheimer's disease.
"I think some people are more willing to come here than go to the doctor," she said. "There's a social aspect to it."
Participants also had the opportunity to learn about family planning, smoking cessation programs and autism at the fair.
"We've been very busy all morning," said Joan Lucas, a member of the YVMC Ethics Committee who answered questions about living wills and durable medical power of attorney forms.
"I think most of what people have been saying is the Terri Schiavo case has really brought to their attention the need to have an advance directive in place," she said.
An offshoot of a program started by 9News in Denver, the 9Health Fair is offered at 160 sites throughout Colorado.
The Steamboat Springs fair serves about 800 people annually, McKelvie said.
-- To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail email@example.com