JULIE BERTRAND/Independent reporter
The second healthy lifestyle fair in Stettler in less than six months saw an increased number of participants showing great interest in how they can adopt healthier living habits.
Wellness coordinator Robin Schwartz and guest instructor Melissa Zabiaka taught various gentle exercises to the 22 eager participants, in between information sessions which focused on the importance of physical activity, self-management and goal setting.
“The purpose of these fairs is getting into prevention of chronic diseases,” said Robin Schwartz of Big Country Primary Care Network.
“We want to make people more aware of what they can do for prevention and management of chronic diseases.”
The network’s employees also want to have residents be more aware of all the services that are available in the community.
“For example, in November, not many people knew there was an audiologist in Stettler,” said Schwartz.
“Because we talked about it, people are now accessing that health service more and doctors are more aware of it.”
Big Country has been active in the region since January 2010, when it started running services through navigators and registered nurses.
“We collaborate with the physicians and we are the connection to the community. There has been a gap in the past with that,” said Schwartz.
“We work in collaboration together to work with the patient or for the patient, to provide them the best primary care possible.”
The province created the primary care networks in the early 2000s to streamline the medical end of healthcare.
“We don’t need somebody going into an emergency department when they can see Robin for an exercise program or myself as a registered nurse or a dietician,” said Gail Sanders, registered nurse for Big Country.
“It’s based on a referral process. You can get care right away instead of waiting for an appointment four to six weeks down the road,” said Robin Schwartz.
Big Country is quite happy with the number of participants at the fair, but they hope to get more people at the next one, which should be in the summer.
“This fair has been more successful than November, which is good. It tells us that the word about us is getting out there,” concluded Schwartz.