Skico offers health fair

Naomi Havlen

With many skiers feeling a little sore from the first few days on the slopes, now might be a good time to think about overall health.The sixth annual Aspen Skiing Company Health Awareness Days are Friday and Saturday mornings in Bumps Restaurant at the base of Buttermilk Mountain.Besides low-cost blood tests, the health fair includes body fat testing and a wide array of free services from massage therapy to hearing tests. It’s the only two-day health fair in the Roaring Fork Valley.Jim Laing, the director of human resources for Skico, said the health fair grew out of the company’s guiding principles – one of which is a commitment to the health of employees and the community. Although Skico offers a generous health plan for its employees, Laing said, a ski patroller years ago came up with the idea for a health fair.”Over the years, health care has gotten more and more expensive, and we’ve had to institute co-pays,” Laing said. “If you went to your doctor the lab work would cost quite a bit of money. This is an additional benefit for our employees.”TLC Laboratory Care will draw blood at the event, and the testing itself is performed at Aspen Valley Hospital.”We don’t want to take business away from doctors in town, but we’re raising awareness about health,” said Nancy Birkholz, lab manager at TLC Laboratory Care. “If the tests find something abnormal, you can go to see your doctor when you otherwise wouldn’t have.”The blood tests are free for Skico employees and are no more than $35 for other members of the community. A “health awareness lab profile” includes more than 30 tests, including kidney and liver function tests, blood sugar checks and a cholesterol test. There is also a thyroid screening test and prostate cancer screening.For the health awareness lab profile and body fat testing by the Aspen Diet Center, people are asked to fast 12 to 14 hours before the tests, and to drink a lot of water.The laundry list of free services and exhibits includes blood pressure checks, knee and foot exams, spinal screenings, vision checks, breast cancer information and skin cancer screenings. Flu shots won’t be available at the fair this year because of the national shortage.All of these services are provided by local specialists who volunteer at the health fair.The first fair in 1999 drew 244 people, and that number has grown steadily since. In 2003, 559 people showed up for the screenings.”This is preventative medicine, and we provide an opportunity annually for people to take part in this,” he said.The Aspen Skiing Company Health Awareness Days are Friday and Saturday, Dec. 3 and 4, from 7 to 11 a.m. at Bumps Restaurant at Buttermilk. Results from blood testing are mailed out within a couple of weeks.For more information, call Skico at 925-1220.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is