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Backpacking through the St. John’s Hospital wellness fair


Brookhaven Avenue, between Beach 19th and 20th streets, in Far Rockaway, was packed with more than 700 community members, including many children, as St. John’s Episcopal Hospital held its annual wellness fair and gave out 1,000 backpacks on Aug. 2.

The fair, outside of the Rockaway Peninsula’s only hospital, which also serves the Five Towns, included health screenings, a wealth of heath education and several fun activities for the kids ranging from a mobile gaming center, a pop-a-shot basketball game and a NYPD rock wall. A juggler was first walking around on stilts, then later continued to juggle at ground level.

Two hours into the six- hour event that began at noon, parents and children lined up for the backpacks. There was one qualification: That the families visit at least 10 of the many health-related exhibitors. Among them were St. John’s physicians Drs. Arthur DeLuca and Aurash Bina.

DeLuca, a pediatric pulmonologist, along with Bina, answered questions on such health issues as asthma. “Usually we talk with a parent about what is asthma, how do kids get asthma and what are the symptoms,” DeLuca said, pointing to the nebulizer that uses a bunny rabbit shape to be child-friendly.

Bridgett Morrell, the client coordinator for DentaQuest in the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area, noted that her company, which sells and administers commercial and government dental and vision benefit programs to improve oral and vision health while managing costs, collaborates with Emblem, Fidelis and other insurance companies.

Typically paired with a dental hygienist, Morrell explained what she does. “ We look to increase awareness about dental health and help people who don’t have the resources to find a dentist,” Morrell said.

Among the sponsors were Lawrence resident Margaret Carpenter, who is on the St. John’s board and Richard Brodsky, an Atlantic Beach resident who operates the Richard Brodsky Foundation with his wife, Jodi. The foundation raises money and supports civic-minded organizations and institutions.

“This is a great opportunity to distribute backpacks to the kids,” said St. John’s CEO Gerard Walsh, as he thanked the many sponsors and exhibitors.