Health Care

Valley Health Expo Draws 2,000 to Covelli Centre

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Aggie Catlett’s experience Saturday morning at the first Valley Health & Wellness Expo confirmed how well its sponsors met their objective of exposing people to the array of health care and related services available in the Mahoning Valley and surrounding region.

Catlett, of Poland, talked with Dr. Nicholas Styn of N.E.O. Urology Associates Inc. as her son, Damian, tried out the controls of a Da Vinci surgical robot. “I wanted to see all the vendors that came out. There’s a lot here that I didn’t know about. It’s interesting to know who they are and what they do.”

Catlett was among the estimated 2,000 visitors who attended the first day of the two-day event held at the Covelli Centre. It concludes today. The expo, presented by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber in conjunction with Mercy Health, One Health Ohio, Southwoods Health and Steward Health Care System, featured 66 exhibitors.

“It’s meeting all expectations,” said James Dignan, president and CEO of the Regional Chamber.

“We knew going in that this was going to be successful, and we thought the community was interested in a lot of these things,” added Ed Muransky, chairman and CEO of Southwoods Health, Boardman. “So far we’re overwhelmed.”

Exhibitors included local hospitals, primary care physician groups and specialists; medical equipment vendors; nursing homes; and related entities such as insurance companies and financial institutions. The event also featured health screenings, panels and one-on-one sessions with local physicians where attendees were invited to ask questions.

People attending “really had some self-reflection” about what they wanted to get out of the event, Melissa Bennett, president of Steward’s Northside Medical Center in Youngstown, observed.

Among the topics they came prepared to discuss was surgical technology, she said.

“They asked specific questions related to pain, incision size, what’s different between robotic versus laparoscopic,” Bennett explained. During breakout sessions, former patients also offered testimonials about how their procedures went and why they would recommend getting treatment locally, she said.

From the opening, when there was a line outside the Covelli Centre, there was a steady stream of traffic throughout the morning and into the afternoon.

“It’s been nonstop today,” said Lauren Lindvig, marketing director for Sleep Easy Dental Spa, Newton Falls.

The company developed a dental appliance to address sleep apnea and snoring. The oral device pushes the jaw slightly forward during sleep, permitting better airflow for the patient.

“This is the best way for us to be able to convey our message,” Lindvig remarked. “It’s face-to-face. It’s interacting with our community. It’s helping at a very grassroots level.”

Vendors reported fielding several questions about issues related to mental health, behavioral health and substance abuse.

“The opioid epidemic is such a huge issue not only in our community but all across the stat of Ohio,” said Sydney Metzel, marketing manager for New Day Recovery, which has offices in Boardman and Rogers. People who came to her booth had questions about treatment services,

At the Serenity Center booth, the top topic discussed Saturday was mental health, particularly regarding children, program director Clarence Jackson said. Serenity Center has offices in Boardman, North Lima and Warren.

Opiates are “the No. 1 issue that you may see in the news” but mental health is “probably the second topic that needs to be discussed,” Jackson said.

Many patients are “dual diagnosis,” suffering from mental health as well as substance abuse issues, Barbara Hierro, Serenity Center’s director of business development, said. The objective is to make sure patients are “getting a well-rounded approach to their addiction issues as well as their mental health issues,” she said.

“We have a number of different avenues that patients can explore,” Hierro added.

Clinicians at One Health Ohio’s facilities Mahoning, Trumbull and Stark counties began asking medical patients behavioral and mental health questions about three years ago, Dr. Ronald Dwinnells, CEO, said. The additional layer of screening came from Dwinnells’ experience with his father, who had diabetes but “was clearly depressed,” he said.

“As everybody knows we have a huge drug addiction problem here, and if on a medical level we can start screening these patients more fully and more completely, then we can identify these patients earlier, do the identification and then do the interventions quicker,” he said.

Lauren Flauto, marketing and public relations manager for Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Services, shared information about Shepherd’s various communities with visitors to its booth. People asked about the transition process and were trying “to find the right campus” for themselves or their loved ones, she reported.

Dr. Lisa M. Reedy, primary audiologist for the Centers for Hearing Care’s Pepper Pike office, discussed many of the early signs of hearing loss with visitors to the booth. These include difficulty hearing over background noise.

“We’re trying today to let people know that they can come in and set up an appointment to get a hearing test, and they also have the opportunity to try a pair of hearing aids, take them home for a couple weeks and see what they sound like,” she said. “That way they know what they’re getting into before they make any kind of commitment.”

Well-Being Collaborative of Ohio was among the nonprofit agencies exhibiting at the expo. The organization, which works with Valley stakeholders to bring health initiatives to the area, was providing information regarding diabetes.

“We have found that diabetes is an issue in our area so we are working to help prevent it, because diabetes is largely preventable,” Mackenzie Clark, coordinator, said. Many of the people she spoke with Saturday were diabetic and wanted help with managing the disease or preventing it among family members.

Myers Family Insurance, Greenford, was providing information on visitors’ policies. The agency handles insurance products from all of the major carriers in Ohio as well as some of the smaller ones, Ann Myers, co-owner, said.

“We’re here to help educate people to know that there’s a place they can go and get unbiased information,” Myers said. “It’s educating people and making sure that they’re on the right plan.”

Delmas Stubbs, community outreach coordinator for the Mahoning County Veterans Services Commission, provided information regarding benefits available to veterans. Many veterans and their spouses, he noted, aren’t aware of the benefits available to them, he said. One widow he spoke with yesterday didn’t know that she was entitled to a monetary benefit upon her husband’s death, he said.

Jane Hallos, Boardman, said attended the expo to learn about local health care services. She returned to the Valley in January after living in South Carolina for 20 years, she reported, and needed to find new doctors and other available health-care resources.

“I’m healthy but I needed to know where things are now,” she said.

“I wanted to see what health-care providers in this area were offering us,” Dan Colaianni, Boardman, said. “I’ve been in good health up to this time but it is good to see and get up to date with what is being offered. … It’s good to know these things in case I do need some of these services.”

Pictured at top: Aggie Catlett, of Poland, talks with Dr. Nicholas Styn of N.E.O. Urology Associates Inc. as her son, Damian, looks on.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.