New technology, programs help YVMC grow

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— In an era when small community hospitals nationwide are struggling to modernize, Yampa Valley Medical Center is adding equipment and medical staff that allow it to raise the level of health care it offers patients from several counties.

YVMC logged more than 40,000 patient visits last year.

Emblematic of the hospital's expanding ability to treat Northwest Colorado patients at home are new advances in the way YVMC tests for and treats symptoms of breast cancer.

The addition of stereotactic breast biopsy equipment allows physicians at YVMC to perform core biopsies to diagnose suspicious lumps without the need to perform invasive surgery.

The "Steamboat Dream Team" raised funds to purchase the equipment through the 2002 Ski Town USA Golf Classic.

Yampa Valley Medical Center is one of about 500 hospitals in the U.S. employing a computer-aided detection (CAD) device to enhance its ability to diagnose breast cancer.

Made possible when a community member donated funds, the CAD equipment assists radiologists by highlighting areas of potential trouble on mammogram films.

Patients with kidney stones may be spared some pain thanks to a new procedure that uses shockwaves to break the stones into tiny particles. The non-surgical procedure is known as lithotripsy.

In some cases, patients undergo follow-up treatment with the use of a "Holmium laser."

YVMC has a tradition of promoting general wellness as well as treating acute health problems. About 1,400 people took advantage of free "Taking Care of Me" programs and other events at YVMC last year. Another 400-plus people attended classes on subjects like "how to get rid of a tobacco habit" and ski conditioning.

The respiratory therapy staff conducts sleep studies at the hospital, in part because they are more effective when done at the same altitude at which patients live. Resolving sleep issues can improve patients' lives in terms of managing anxiety, depression, fatigue and high blood pressure.

Chronic pain is an issue that affects the quality of life of many people, and YVMC has recently expanded its Pain Management Program with a move into more spacious quarters in the medical office building attached to the hospital. The hospital worked with 566 pain management cases last year.

YVMC has 52 physicians and dentists on its medical staff with an additional 21 on the associate staff.

The hospital experienced 32,537 outpatient visits last year. Inpatient admissions numbered 1,584, and there were 3,837 surgical cases and treatments. The number of emergency room visits exceeded 8,200.

Last year, there were 331 births at the hospital generating 1,007 newborn patient days.

The hospital's Level II nursery, which allows the hospital to treat premature infants who might otherwise have been transferred to an urban hospital, recorded 412 patient days.

The hospital's involvement in life in Northwest Colorado is broadened significantly by the inclusion of the Doak Walker Care Center and GrandKids child-care facilities on the campus. Throughout the hospital, volunteers amplify the care provided by the professional staff.

And the professional staff, in turn, makes a significant contribution to the broader community through its spirit of volunteerism.

Salaries and benefits at YVMC last year totaled $19 million, making it a significant economic engine in the region.

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