Leslie Schoenfeld, Outside Coordinator
Wyatt McMillian, T.R.U.S.T. Fellow, Health Fair Chairman
The San Quentin Health Fair has awakened the hearts and minds of many, including inmates, health providers, and volunteers. Each year over 1,000 inmates receive information and services at the Health Fair. The impact has been great and unanticipated in many ways.
Originally, the main beneficiaries of the event were anticipated to be the T.R.U.S.T. Fellows and the inmate community at San Quentin. It quickly became clear, however, that the beneficiaries of the Health Fair encompassed not only the men behind bars, but also the volunteers who serve, listen, and care for the men, one day a year.
How We Got Here
The San Quentin Health Fair dates back to 2003. Arnold Perkins of the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) founded it with the T.R.U.S.T. Fellows of San Quentin State Prison with Michael Shaw and Dr. Arnold Chavez supporting the effort.
The Fair was started during a time when one inmate per week was dying in state prisons due to medical malpractice or neglect.
The idea was to start a Health Fair at San Quentin with ACPHD staff and volunteers providing health education and health-related services to inmates. Initially, there was limited engagement by state prison staff and prison health officials, but over the years, this has become a collaborative event run by partners and hundreds of volunteers. Preparation for this one day event is a year-long process.
Mildred Crear, former Bay Area Black Nurses Association (BABNA) President, and Larry Vitale, SF State Nursing Professor, have been participants in the Fair since its inception.
The Health Fair Today
The Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) and Centerforce continue to partner with the San Quentin State Prison to host a vital health fair for the general inmate population. Beginning in 2019, the Asian Prisoner Support Committee (APSC) has stepped up to provide both financial and outside volunteer support to benefit the Health Fair.
Steve Emerick and Madeline Tenney are staff members of San Quentin who consistently provide a smooth interface between the prison administration, custody officers, and the volunteers as we take over many areas of the prison grounds including the gym, the yard, educational buildings, and more. Security is guaranteed.
The San Quentin Health Fair aims to:
Improve the health status of incarcerated men
Inform and encourage preventive health practices among incarcerated men
Encourage men to be health advocates within their sphere of influence
Testing and activities include:
Blood Pressure Monitoring
Hearing and Vision Testing
Dental Hygiene Education
Ear Seed Acupuncture
Spiritual Healing and Drumming
Educational booths and lectures include:
Advance Directive Assistance