The West-Cook YMCA and Westlake Hospital partnered to present a health fair at Walther Christian Academy in Melrose Park Nov. 22. Photo: Michael Romain

The West Cook YMCA, based in Oak Park, is reaching out to residents of Proviso Township. The Y partnered with Westlake Hospital and the Westlake Health Foundation to host a free health screening Nov. 22 at Walter Christian Academy, 900 Chicago Avenue, in Melrose Park.

The event, which targeted residents in Northlake and Proviso Township, was an extension of West Cook’s mission to be a “Y without walls,” according to the Y’s President and CEO Phillip Jimenez.

The West Cook YMCA provides health and wellness programming to ten communities in the western suburbs, including Maywood, Melrose Park, Forest Park and Oak Park.

“The Westlake Foundation has been very philanthropic in the area,” said Melrose Park Mayor Ronald Serpico, who made his way around the various screening stations setup throughout the school’s open space.

“I think this is another example of them coming into our community and being good neighbors, so I’m happy to be here,” he said.

Participants were provided free glucose, bone density, PSA and blood pressure screenings. They were also treated to free workshops on bone health and given information free early head-start programs, among other beneficial wellness services.

“We service [pregnant women and children ages 0 to 3 years old] in the home for 90 minutes,” said Joy Lewis, who works with Presence Health. “It’s kind of like homeschooling and it’s free of charge, so even if there’s no income we still service families.”

Both Westlake and YMCA officials believe that the family health fair is just a step toward a more comprehensive focus on preventative care throughout the western suburbs.

“According to the Cook County Department of Public Health, the Proviso Township area’s health priorities include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and access to health care services. The leading causes of death for residents of West Suburban Cook County are heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and influenza/pneumonia,” said Marta Alvarado in a statement released by the YMCA.

“This new initiative will focus on increasing awareness about these serious impediments to healthy living and offer educational opportunities to change behaviors to reduce instances of these illnesses and conditions,” said Alvarado, who is the Director of Wellness Programs at Westlake Hospital.

“People need preventative care and the purpose of this for us is to educate people,” said Karen Montiel, Community Health Coordinator at Westlake. “We’re in a diverse, multi-ethnic community in Proviso Township and there’s a need for this kind of outreach.”

The collaboration between the Y and Westlake is funded by a $479,000 grant from the Westlake Foundation spread over three years. During that time, residents in Northlake and Proviso Township will be invited to various health screenings, assessments and health education programs facilitated throughout the Proviso Township. In addition, West Cook Y will offer on-site fitness and exercise programs at facilities operated by its various partners throughout the township.