Finding Health “Where Pigs Fly”

November 01, 2009 | Shawna Malvini

You might not think of finding health care "Where Pigs Fly," but the residents of Tillamook, Ore., did just that this summer. Thanks to the team at Tillamook County General Hospital, area residents received health screenings, wellness information and complimentary massages at the 26th-annual Huckleberry Health Fair inside the county fair.

Explaining the farm animal theme, TCGH community health educator Ginny Gabel, registered nurse, says it's all thanks to the 85th anniversary of Pig and Ford Races. For those who have never witnessed the spectacle, she laughingly says, it involves people shuffling pigs into wind-up Model-Ts, driving around a muddy track and then placing the pigs back in their pens in the shortest amount of time.

While the theme made sense considering the anniversary, Gabel and her team were left in a quandary about how an Adventist hospital might turn a pig-related theme into a health care appropriate title. "So we made our theme ‘Where Pigs Fly on Track to Good Health,'" says Gabel. To compliment the track idea, they transformed Tilla-Skate, the local roller rink, into a racetrack with all sorts of health related pit stops.

"Our ‘race track to good health' started with a registration booth where visitors received an ‘owners manual' to collect stickers from each booth to qualify for door prizes," says Gabel, who described the decorations as photos of past Pig and Ford races and community-made quilts that were auctioned off in support of breast health. Booth pit stops included cholesterol, blood pressure, bone density, blood sugar and pulmonary function screenings, as well as free neck and foot massages. New health providers were also on tap to introduce themselves to the community.

"We performed a total of 432 screenings for cholesterol, A1C for diabetics, bone density and pulmonary function, and 233 massages total," reports Gabel. She also notes hospital employees Gina Seufert and Jen Hallock assisted with 176 identification kits for local children, which included fingerprints, photos and (optional) DNA testing at the hospital's first-aid booth.

Alongside the hospital's 38 booths, which included a Nutritional Services-sponsored restaurant featuring healthy cuisine, the fair also boasted a booth from the Tillamook Adventist Church and the Tillamook Adventist School, which sold corn dogs, veggie burgers and haystacks.

"Our collective outreach to the community has potential," says Larry Davy, president and CEO of TCGH, who said a number of our hospital employees have ties to the church and school. "It's great to see three avenues of ministry reaching out into the community."