Big Sur, CA, October 02, 2019 — The Big Sur Health Center’s Health Fair has been held for almost 20 years, but this year’s event, set for Oct. 8, takes on a little more significance.
In addition to free flu shots, counseling, a free barbecue, live music and more, the non-profit Health Center will be celebrating its 40th anniversary at the popular event, which is set for noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, on the grounds of the center at 46896 Highway 1, in Big Sur.
The fair will also offer free blood pressure checks, cholesterol and blood sugar screening through Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula (CHOMP), free counseling services by BSHC medical providers and nutritionists from CHOMP who can answer questions about diet, lifestyle and weight. The cholesterol and blood sugar screenings are done through a simple finger-stick and results will be available instantaneously.
At 2 p.m., speakers from foundations that support the center (Community Foundation for Monterey County, Monterey Peninsula Foundation and the Harden Foundation), CHOMP President/CEO Dr. Steven Packer, and some of our elected officials will celebrate the 40th anniversary during a short program.
“Sometimes I have to pinch myself; it’s hard to believe it’s been 40 years. I wish I had kept a diary. There have been so many bumps in the road, but we’ve weathered them all,” said Sharen Carey, executive director of BSHC, who has been involved with the center in various capacities since 1985. “It’s been such a joy to see it grow from the early days to what it is now, being open five days a week and so busy it’s hard to keep up. We have a wonderful professional staff and the great support of our board of directors.”
The Health Fair had initially been founded to serve and inform the local workforce, but it has grown to be a cherished community event.
“We targeted local businesses because we want to keep our workforce healthy, but the health fair is open to everyone,” says Carey. “We’ve even had tourists who dropped by and were thrilled to participate. It’s always a wonderful way for community members to get together. It feels like a reunion and gives us time to visit with our neighbors and friends.”
There will be a free organic barbecue for lunch, music by Monterey Peninsula musician Rick Chelew, as well as a Children’s Corner with books, toys and games. It’s a fun and lively event, but the fair is all about early prevention of health problems.
“We’re all about prevention, that’s what the Health Fair is all about,” says Carey.
As the Health Center celebrates its 40th year, Carey says she’s encouraged about the future of the center.
“The Health Center, by all standards, should have gone out of business a long time ago,” she says. “The statistics say that you need 5,000 people for one health provider, and our community is 1,600, with about 300-400 who come from the Peninsula. So we’ve overcome those statistics through the generosity of our foundations and many donors.
“We used to have a receptionist who would say to me, when we would have a problem, ‘Sharen, it’s OK, the Health Center has a life of its own.’ It’s been my mantra ever since.”
For more information on the Health Fair, call (831) 667-2580.
About Big Sur Health Center
BSHC was founded in September 1979, through a local, grass-roots effort, to meet the needs of this rural community through its mission to provide quality comprehensive medical care to all in Big Sur regardless of ability to pay. In 1985, BSHC became a 501(c)(3) corporation with a volunteer Board of Directors. That same year BSHC relocated from the Big Sur Grange Hall to the grounds of the All Saints Episcopal Church of Carmel, 1/8 mile south of the Big Sur River Inn.
Ultimately, through a community-wide fundraising and development effort by BSHC and volunteer members of the Big Sur community, along with financial support from the Monterey Peninsula Foundation and other foundations, we opened a new 2,100 sq. ft. medical facility in November 2004 to replace an aging building that we had long-past outgrown.
The presence of BSHC is crucial to the welfare of the Big Sur Community. As the only medical facility between the Monterey Peninsula (30 miles to the north) and Cambria (70 miles to the south), BSHC plays a vital role in the local community, serving the health care needs of the population by providing local, culturally and linguistically appropriate, affordable, quality medical care.
The hazardous coastline of Big Sur, combined with extreme weather conditions, road closures and frequent large-scale fires, underscores the critical need for the local presence of BSHC. Our centrally located facility is easily accessible to residents and tourists with urgent care needs. During road closures and other community disasters, BSHC provides 24-hour-on-call service, home welfare visits, medication service (at times, via helicopter transport) and coordination with local emergency teams.
From the early days at the Grange Hall, providing basic first aid, BSHC has developed into a busy family practice with over 1,200 patient visits annually.
Big Sur Health Center
46896 Highway 1 Big Sur, CA 93920
Hours: 10:00 a.m.-1:00 , .m. & 2:00-5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday
About Sharen Carey, PA-C
Executive Director, Physician Assistant
Sharen started her career as a laboratory technician for Dr. Jonas Salk at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. She became a licensed Clinical Laboratory Scientist in 1969, working at Children’s Hospital in San Francisco for 2 years, followed by 7 years in immunology and cancer research at the University of California at San Diego. With a keen interest in medicine, Sharen returned to school at the University of Southern California where she completed her Family Practice training in 1981. She has been a Physician Assistant at the Big Sur Health Center since 1987. In 2005 Sharen received the Outstanding Service Award from the California Academy of Physician Assistants. In 2006, she was honored as one of the Ten Outstanding Women of Monterey County. Sharen was Administrator of the Big Sur Health Center from 1990-1994 and 1998-2008. She became the center’s first Executive Director following a strategic plan update and reorganization in early 2008. Sharen is a member of the California Academy of Physician Assistants and she is board certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.
Marci Bracco Cain
Salinas, CA 93901