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Herald Community Newspapers hosts crowded Senior Health Expo at O'Connell Gardens in Oceanside


Roughly 275 people circulated through the banquet hall at O’Connell Gardens in Oceanside to gather information from more than 35 vendors who had tables set up around the perimeter of the room as Herald Community Newspapers presented its second Senior Health Expo on April 11.

Event speakers included Kathy Delcastillo of Cassena Care and Long Beach Nursing and Rehabilitation Center; Alison Dixon, the outreach coordinator for Curaleaf NY; Kathy Schmidt, the program director of senior services for the New Horizon Counseling Center; Lindsay Block of Ear Works Audiology; Akiva Shapiro of Akiva Shapiro Law PLLC; Eileen O’Neill of Philips Lifeline/Medical Alert Solutions; Amy Dagger of Towers Funeral Home; and Walter Aguilar, director of assessment and enrollment for WellCare.

Aguilar said WellCare is an insurance program that focuses on long-term care and services 13 counties across New York. It also provides nursing services, physical therapy and personal care that enables members to remain at home, in addition to nursing home care. Aguilar said the Expo was an excellent way to help seniors learn about their care options.

“The reason that we’re here is even though we’re a national company, we have local representatives,” Aguilar said. “ … So we want to basically give services to our community.”

Dr. Kenneth Berger, a dentist, also spoke with seniors about his practice, which has been on Hawthorne Avenue in Valley Stream for 29 years. “We’re telling all the seniors, like we tell all of our patients, that it’s really important to take care of your teeth and gums because a lot of dental issues are related to medical issues,” Berger said. “ … I think everybody is energetic and happy to be here. It gives them the opportunity to see what’s going on, health-wise, and take better care of themselves.”

Mike Conway, the director of dispensary operations for Curaleaf NY, said the company has medical marijuana locations across the state, including in Carle Place. He said the Expo provided Curaleaf with a platform to educate seniors about the positives of medical marijuana, while helping erase the stigma that many associate with it.

“People are always surprised to learn that our average patient age range is around 60 to 65,” he said. “Events like this help us educate the community, and a lot of seniors don’t realize that their aches and pains — whether it be arthritis or other ailments — qualify them for medical marijuana under the New York program.”

The remaining speakers discussed estate planning, homecare and medical insurance. Hamid Muneeb, a field engineer for PSEG Long Island, also spoke with seniors about the various free services that the utility provides for them. “This is a great event,” he said. “I’m very impressed.”

Attendees enjoyed free snacks and refreshments, complimentary goodie bags and the opportunity to win raffle prizes, including gift certificates to local restaurants and Costco. The grand prize was a trip to Cancun, excluding airfare.

The event was sponsored by Cassena Care, Curaleaf, WellCare, Mercy Medical Center, Towers Funeral Home, Ocean Financial Credit Union and O’Connell Gardens. The refreshment sponsor was Long Beach Assisted Living.