By Sarah Chacko

Killeen Daily Herald

More than 100 residents had their fingers pricked, backs bent and eyes widened literally at the Hispanic Health Fair Sunday.

Osteoporosis, eye and other exams attracted many, while other booths lined around the gymnasium at the Killeen Community Center offered general information on health, social and community services.

Metroplex Hospital Executive Director of Community Relations Doug Bendall said since it was the first health fair in Killeen for Hispanics, the turnout was good.

Health representatives administering wellness checks said sometimes residents are not aware of their fitness levels. The problem may arise from a statewide trend affecting the Hispanic population.

A letter from a neonatologist with the March of Dimes Houston Division said Texas statistics reveal that 40 percent of Hispanics in the state are without health insurance.

This fact combined with the high cost of health care, cultural and language barriers, immigration issues and a lack of outreach programs may impede access to health care for many Hispanics in Texas, Dr. Joseph Garcia-Prats stated in the letter.

Karin Hunter, a lab assistant at Metroplex who was pricking fingers for blood checks, said some people were surprised when they realized they have high cholesterol. While health volunteers do not diagnose on site, they do encourage people with potential problems to visit a doctor.

Margarita Sanchez, a bilingual dietetic technician, said most of the time, people just dont want to know.

A lot of people say it is more worry if they know, she said.

Victor Sanchez, vice president of the Sociedad Cultural Hispanoamericana, said he hopes community leaders take the success of the event to heart and expand on the concept in coming years because it is a needed resource.

Its not for one person. Its for the community, Sanchez said.

The fair helped residents that may not have time to schedule health checks to receive that care in an informal setting, he said.

Copperas Cove resident Maria Oliveras said she brought her daughter and niece out to support the Hispanic community.

While resources for children and elderly residents are easy to find, it is sometimes harder for families with a range of ages to get information, she said. Especially within the Hispanic community, many families may not have the money to get health care but have no place to get information about services, like the Killeen Free Clinic.

Were too big a minority group not to have more support from all of us, she said.

Aside from health services, other community businesses came out to share their services with residents.

Members from Grace Christian Center, a muticultural church in Killeen, came out to introduce their new Spanish services to interested residents looking for a church family.

Jan Whitley, wife of the Rev. Terry Whitley, said they wanted to empower the Hispanic community not only spiritually, but naturally.

We do not expect the community to adapt to us, but the church adapts to the community, she said.

Whitley said some Hispanic families that immigrate from other countries may feel lost, scared and distrustful in their new environment. The church staff tries to integrate those families not only within the church community but within the Killeen area to let them know they care about their lives, she said.

Tony Perez, a leader in the churchs Spanish ministry, said the Hispanic community is more unified within itself than its surrounding environment. Events like the health fair give them good opportunities to meet other people in the community that they wouldnt otherwise meet.

It pulls the Hispanic community from every corner of Killeen to share with them the resources available, he said.

Contact Sarah Chacko at

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