Merced County Times Newspaper
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Summer health festival draws huge crowd to Castle

Castle Family Health Centers’ 12th Annual Summer Health Festival took place at Castle Clinic located at 3605 Hospital Road in Atwater on Aug. 3.

When the Times interviewed Della Mendez at Registration one hour before the festival ended, she said more than 100 people had taken advantage of the free health screenings.

The complimentary screenings included blood pressure, stroke screenings, diabetes, hearing, vision, BMI (a measure of body fat), breast exams and dental exams.

Peter Mojarras, Chief Operations Officer of Castle Family Health Centers, was happy about the festival’s success.

He explained, “Free screenings are a way to get people in the community to come in and access care.  It exposes them to Castle and our services.”

On site, there were health practitioners, who reported any health issues to the patients and provided them with necessary referrals to service providers.

For a small fee, sports physicals and well child exams were also available.

There were also vendors available to the attendees with resources which included  health, literacy, legal, economic, educational, mental health and behavioral health.

Ed Lujano, Castle Family Health Centers’ Chief Executive Officer, exclaimed, enthusiastically, “This is one of the biggest festivals we’ve had.”

According to Lujano, there were 58 vendors present instead of the typical 40, and 200 sports physicals were scheduled, as well as 200 CHDP’s.  CHDP’s, he explained, are part of the child immunization program and were available at no charge.  The sports physicals cost $25.

Lujano said, “Bloss Memorial Health Care District, which owns the buildings used by Castle Clinic and by Bloss Clinic on Third and Grove, gave us a $5,000 grant to keep costs for patients at a minimum.”

Lujano and Mojarras were excited about some new services available at Castle Clinic and Bloss Clinic.

Acupuncture and podiatry are now available to patients, and Castle Clinic has added an endocrinologist and is about to get a new OB/GYN.  The OB/GYN will split services between Castle Clinic and Bloss Clinic.

Recently also, Castle Family Health Centers opened the new Winton Clinic at 6029 N. Winton Way, which offers primary care and dental and behavioral health services and has a pharmacy.

Virginia Vega, Castle Family Health Centers’ Health Education Coordinator and the event coordinator for the Summer Family Health Festival, described the health festival raffles.

She explained, “Each vendor was asked to bring a raffle item.  There were many community agencies who donated to the event, such as Travis Credit Union, BBVA Compass, Dignity Health, and individual real estate agents.”

Examples Vega gave of raffle item donors were Wal-Mart, which donated 300 backpacks, Office Depot, which donated school supplies, and three entities which donated a bicycle each — G L Insurance, VS Party Palooza, and California Highway Patrol.

The other two bicycles raffled off during the event were purchased by Castle Family Health Centers.

The health festival attendees were provided a complimentary lunch and enjoyed excellent entertainment by dance groups such as South Pacific Dance Company, Danza Folklorica, and Mixtecos Unidos, a group of Mexican-American dancers whose founder was originally from Oaxaca in southwestern Mexico.

One of the skillful dances performed by Mixtecos Unidos featured dancers costumed as devils cracking whips, as well as young dancers dressed as peasants.  The dance’s roots went back to 16th century Oaxaca at a time when the Spaniards wiped out the Aztec empire and for the next 300 years, took control of the area around Mexico City extending to Oaxaca.

The lively dance represented the indignation of the native people of Oaxaca who defied being conquered by Spain and rebelled against the Spaniards’ rule with the message, “You will never conquer my spirit, not even if the devil takes me.”

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