By Karen Stokes
Ascension St. Joseph Hospital, invited the public to a healthy dose of information and fun at their Fall Festival on November 8th.
The first Fall Festival for Ascension St. Joseph offered the community access to health resources to hopefully inspire residents to take charge of their health.
“This event is very important as we evolve as Ascension in Wisconsin,” said Nichole Gladney, director of community services for Ascension Wisconsin. “Today is a snapshot of the kind of thing that we will continue to provide here at St. Joe’s. It’s an added opportunity to really engage with our patients and also the residents in Sherman Park.”
The Fall Festival located at the Ascension St. Joseph Campus, 5000 W. Chambers, included a wide array of free activities for children and adults. The event started with the voices of children from Mount Calvary Lutheran Church Bell Choir followed by a DJ bringing a festive atmosphere to the festival with attendees dancing along with the music.
“It’s a neighborhood event, it’s a community event, it’s open doors for Ascension St. Joe’s,” said Penelope Stewart, community outreach coordinator for Ascension Wisconsin. “My role is to coordinate activities and educational events, talk about health issues and make sure we are addressing the needs of the community.”
The health fair featured glucose and high blood pressure screenings, flu shots and various exhibit booths offering information on programs and services offered in Milwaukee. The community event also included healthy snacks, chair yoga, cooking demonstrations, giveaways, a job fair and health lectures.
There is a need for accessible health services in Milwaukee. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, disparities in health and health care access exist in Wisconsin. Health status in Wisconsin vary by race/ethnicity, and the patterns of variation are similar to those observed at the national level. Almost one-third (31%) of Black residents report being in fair or poor general health, compared to 14% of those who identify as White. Over four in ten (43%) Hispanics and about half (51%)of Blacks report having frequent mental distress, compared to one-third (34%) of Whites. Additionally, Blacks are more likely to smoke (31%) and have diabetes (15%) than Whites (18% and 9%, respectively). Disparities in access to care also exist in Wisconsin. Blacks in Wisconsin are more likely than Whites to report having no usual source of care (26% versus 17%). However, Whites in the state are more likely than Blacks not to have had a doctor visit in the past two years (17% versus 10%).
The Ascension name is fairly new in Wisconsin.
In October 2015, the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters announced their decision to transfer Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare to new owners and sponsors. As of March 1, 2016, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare Southeast Wisconsin operations and related corporate services became part of Ascension Wisconsin.
In an article that appeared in the Milwaukee Courier in August, Reggie Newson, Chief Advocacy Officer of Ascension Wisconsin said, “Ascension Wisconsin’s vision is to make the Sherman Park and West Burleigh neighborhoods the healthiest in the state. St. Joe’s is a vital access point for the community and we want to expand the impact of St. Joe’s by combining traditional medical services with compatible social services that will help us accomplish this.”
“Today is a day of celebration and a day of health,” said Stewart.