With influenza season upon us and cases of COVID-19 spiking, local residents have lots of questions about how to keep themselves and their loved ones healthy. Family Health Center seeks to answer those questions with a free, public Q&A session with healthcare providers.

Called Healthcare Chat, the Q&A takes place Wednesday, Oct. 28, 5-8 p.m., at FHC’s Paterson campus, 117 W. Paterson St., in the second-floor waiting area of the Moses L. Walker Building. FHC and WMed healthcare providers will be on hand to answer questions and give guidance for protecting against influenza and COVID-19. Healthcare Chat is free and open to the public. No appointment is needed, and you don’t have to be a patient at FHC to attend.

Denise Crawford, President and CEO of Family Health Center, said she understands that people have many concerns during this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.

“As a patient-centered medical home, part of our commitment at Family Health Center is to make sure people know the facts so they can manage their health,” Crawford said. “Healthcare Chat is the simplest way to do that. People can bring questions about flu and COVID-19 and get answers on the spot. We are honored to partner with the WMed Family Practice Residency to make this opportunity and information available to the community.”

FHC has been actively involved in fighting the pandemic, hosting drive-thru coronavirus testing earlier this year across the greater Kalamazoo area. FHC continues to do testing at its clinics and is planning to start drive-thru flu vaccine services soon. Flu shots will be available at Healthcare Chat, too.

“Getting vaccinated against the flu is more important than ever,” Crawford said. “We’re facing the double whammy of flu season and an ongoing global pandemic. COVID-19 cases are spiking, and a vaccine isn’t ready yet. The best thing people can do for themselves and their families is to protect themselves from the flu by getting immunized, and to take precautions to avoid getting coronavirus.”

According to the Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services, 3,658 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Kalamazoo County as of Oct. 23, along with 853 probable cases. Ninety-nine deaths due to the coronavirus are confirmed, plus three probable, with confirmed and probable recoveries numbering 2,788.

No appointment or reservation is needed to attend Healthcare Chat; simply show up at any time during the three-hour session. The Q&A will happen in a clean and sanitized area. Attendees must wear face masks and maintain at least six feet of space between others. Refreshments will be served.