EL CENTRO — Nearly 400 people attended the 10th Annual Baby & Children’s Expo Resource Fair hosted by El Centro Regional Medical Center at its Community Education Center in the Imperial Valley Mall in El Centro on Feb. 1.
“The Expo started
about 10 years ago with the purpose of connecting all the agencies that provide
services for families, babies and toddlers,” said Rosanna Lugo, hospital marketing
and volunteer services director.
There were more than 50
exhibitors. The event offered a one-stop shop on the health and safety of
children of all ages. Exhibitors provided health-related
demonstrations and information on classes, counseling and care. Attendees were
also informed of products and services available for their babies and
children–many at no or little cost.
Among those attending was
Patricia Mojica, and her children ages 2 and 5, who said she finds the hospital
a useful source of information.
“I always bring my
kids to the center (Community Education Center) because they have a lot of
activities and always something new to learn about. Last year I got the
fire alarms for free and I needed new ones,” she said.
The foot traffic made the
expo an opportunity for healthcare providers to expand vital outreach and
perhaps connect with those they might not otherwise encounter.
“Part of my job
includes doing home visits with those who have asthma through a referral
process from the El Centro clinic,” said Lourdes Salazar, of the ECRMC
Asthma Wellness Program. “We teach the parents how to manage their child’s
asthma through medications, techniques and information. We do environmental
assessments with parents to determine where they (the child) spend most of
their time to see what may be triggering the asthma. Along with a
referral process, there is an allergy test.”
Of course along with
parents, grandparents and other guardians came energetic children who heartily enjoyed
the play areas set up by the El Centro recreation officials. The stations
included water safety, reading, dance, music and sensory.
“This program is
called Stepping Stones Enrichment Program, which provides two-day
camps (Camp Pebble and Camp Rock) allowing the parents to come with their
children,” Marissa Hernandez, a recreation leader for the El Centro Community
Services Department, said of a city program she was promoting.
“We teach children
numbers, colors, art, music and movements, and giving them a little bit of
knowledge which prepares the child for kinder and teaches them social
skills with other kids,” she added.
Not surprisingly, among
the most popular participants was “Cake,” a young white bull terrier with
handler Alex Haddad, of Imperial County Behavioral Health Services.
“Cake is part of the
PET Project (Positive Engagement Team),” said Haddad. “Cake
was taken from the Humane Society and connected to the (PET) training and
then we go to clinics for children, adolescents and adults and hang out in
the waiting rooms. They (the dogs) are trained to go into these areas to
be petted. The goal in the future is to get the dogs in the therapy
sessions with the clients.”
ECRMC’s effort to distribute
vital health information in an upbeat environment attractive to children and
families won rave reviews from some in attendance.
“We came to enjoy a day together with
family, and it was very nice,” said Veronica Gutierrez, who attended with
Juan Cortez and their sons Juan Jetzel, Joshua and Joshiel. “The kids
enjoyed their time and the staff were very kind to the people and they gave us
lots of information. I wish they could do these more frequently.”