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Article updated: 12/14/2013 9:16 PM

Suburban Hispanics attend free concert, get health screenings in Hoffman Estates

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Getting a health screening might not sound like the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon, but families who did so at La Pachanga del Aņo -- or "Party of the Year" -- in Hoffman Estates this weekend were rewarded with prizes, family-friendly activities and a free concert featuring five Mexican music groups.

Thousands of Hispanic families from throughout the Chicago area attended the free event at the Sears Centre Arena Saturday, hosted by Telemundo Chicago and La Ley 107.9 FM.

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Solo artist Luis Coronel was the headliner for the concert. The other regional Mexican artists included Alerta Zero, Chicano Express, Los Compas del Terre and Sonora Santanera.

Juan Orta, station relations manager for Telemundo Chicago, said last year the first La Pachanga del Aņo was held in Chicago and drew in about 3,000 people. He was hopeful twice that number would attend this year.

"To end the year and give back to the community (we're hosting) a free concert," he said. "This year we decided to incorporate a health fair, because of all the changes with the Affordable Care Act and people are still not signed up, people are still confused, especially because there is a language barrier."

Patricia Hernandez, local sales manager of La Ley 107.9 FM, said the station decided to get involved with the event this year in hopes of informing more Hispanics about the importance of good health and health insurance.

"It's nice to be able to combine the health fair and then offer some entertainment and just have a feel-good community event," she said.

Two nurses from Hoffman Estates' department of health and human services were on hand to take blood pressures and measure hemoglobin and blood sugar levels. Participants had their results within minutes.

"There are millions of individuals who are either diabetic or prediabetic and don't know," said Algean Garner, director of health and human services. "Having that glucose level will at least give an indication of whether they should go see their physician and get further testing ... It just gives a quick snapshot of your health at this moment."

Representatives from Gov. Pat Quinn's office were handing out information in Spanish about getting health coverage in Illinois. Regional Coordinator Giovanni Gomez looked up organizations by ZIP code for attendees who were in need of a place to go where they could discuss the Affordable Care Act with someone in Spanish.

"There's a lot of confusion (in the Hispanic community). Some of them don't know the law exists, some of them think it got struck down. They're scared," Gomez said. "We make sure we send them to the right place the first time."

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