POPLARVILLE - Almost 500 women treated themselves to a day of learning, pampering and laughter Saturday at the eighth Pearl River Community College Women's Health Symposium here.
From free blood pressure and bone density screenings to manicures and a plethora of door prizes, the symposium offered a day of fun mixed with important health information.
Keynote speaker Jean Gatz of Baton Rouge shared humor and advice to open the symposium with Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This.
"A lot of times we create these days ourselves," she said. "We don't get to chose a lot of what life gives us, but we do get to choose how we respond."
She spoke again after the luncheon with Clean Out the Junk Drawer of Your Life.
"Achieving balance isn't about what goes on outside of you," she said about the age-old question about combining work and home life. "Achieving balance is all about what goes on inside of you."
The symposium also included a panel of healthcare providers who answered a wide range of questions from the audience on issues of particular concern to women. Dr. Shana Allen, chair of the PRCC dental hygiene and dental assisting department, moderated the panel, which included nurse practitioner Selena Clearman of Wesley Primary Care in Oak Grove, Dr. Melissa Holland, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Hattiesburg Clinic; Dr. James M. Riser of Riser Medical Associates in Picayune and Dr. Elizabeth Sullivan of Neurology Associates in Hattiesburg.
PRCC started the Women's Health Symposium in 2007 to provide free health screenings and information to women in South Mississippi in an effort to combat the state's increasing death rates due to heart disease and stroke among women.
"When we first started to envision this event, never in our wildest dreams did we think we'd have 500 people here and have to turn another 100 away," PRCC President Dr. William Lewis said.
Grand sponsor for the symposium is the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation through a $17,000 grant.
The symposium gives PRCC students a chance to interact with their future patients and clients. Students from the dental hygiene program at the Forrest County Center staffed an information table, Forrest County Center medical laboratory technology students drew blood for glucose tests, nursing students on the Poplarville campus did blood pressure screenings and cosmetology students provided manicure and paraffin wax treatments.
Grand prize winners were Lavonne Henry of Poplarville, a Ronaldo bracelet from Apples Ltd.; Janet Necaise of Kiln, a year's supply of Coke from Hattiesburg Coca-Cola; Charity McCoy of Hattiesburg, an Infinity Spa package from Healing Touch Day Spa in Hattiesburg; Janet Washabaug of Purvis, a Day of Beauty from Belk in Hattiesburg; Jennifer Hession of Purvis, two Adirondack patio chairs from the PRCC construction management department; and Jeannie Dixon of Poplarville, a concrete patio table from the PRCC masonry department.
Elite prize winners were Evelyn Shelby of Carriere, an original painting by Alex Ladner; Mary Salter of Lumberton, a Clarisonic Mia from Campbell Commodities; Kathy Hodge of Poplarville, a Kindle Paperwhite Tablet from the PRCC admissions office; and Pam Albertson of Poplarville, Keurig coffee maker from the PRCC disability services office.
Silver sponsors were Hancock Bank, Mississippi Power Co., Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home, Slidell Memorial Hospital and Wal-Mart Supercenter in Picayune.
Bronze sponsors were BankPlus, First National Bank of Picayune, Hattiesburg Clinic, Highland Community Hospital, Southern Bone and Joint Specialists PA, The First, A National Banking Association; and Wesley Medical Center.