As Seventh-day Adventist Christians, we believe in a ministry of healing, which includes the spiritual, physical, mental, and social aspects of life. In recent years, part of this ministry of healing has included health promotion activities such as organizing and running or participating in community health fairs. With these types of events, especially in our ever-growing litigious environment, comes the need to be vigilant and thorough in the planning and coordination of these activities.First, you need to know exactly what activities you are planning to conduct. Health fairs can fall into two separate categories: health screening events and medical events. Each event offers very different activities and, as such, each has very different pre-planning and liability considerations.
Health Screening EventsChurches and schools may want to hold a health screening event for the community to help raise the awareness of proper health. A health fair or screening event involves performing non-invasive tests, such as measuring weight, body mass index (BMI), and blood pressure. Organizers should only provide the results of these tests without any type of diagnosis. Third-party informational material about various medical situations may be distributed.
If your conference purchases General Liability insurance through Adventist Risk Management (ARM) , this policy provides professional liability coverage for volunteers involved in the health screening events as well as for the conference. There are limitations to this coverage. It is recommended you work with your ARM account executive in making sure the proper insurance is in place before any event.
Medical EventsOnly currently licensed health care professionals should volunteer and provide medical services at these events. The licensed and experienced health care professionals can provide a diagnosis for participants. They can even perform minor medical procedures right there on site. Dental professionals can clean teeth, perform extractions, and even fill cavities. Vision procedures can also be performed.
These medical events can often have a more significant impact on the community, but they also come with more liability exposure. Organizers should work with their legal counsel and review and address items:
- Verify all medical professionals providing services have current licenses to practice these procedures
- Confirm that the venue has the proper licenses and permits to conduct such an event
- Determine how medical records will be maintained in a way that doesn’t violate any local or federal laws
- Identify procedures to maintain HIPPA-compliant privacy standards
Health Fairs are incredible opportunities for both the participants as well as the volunteers involved. Still, they are also quite complicated and challenging events to coordinate and run smoothly. You must work with your local conference and division health ministry’s department, Adventist Risk Management, and local legal counsel. These are professionals who can help guide you through the processes to have a successful health fair for both the community and your volunteers without bringing additional liability to the church.
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