Monday Medical: Library offers 'health to go'

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"Recently I had a medical condition that hit very suddenly with a great deal of pain in the lower abdomen. After being diagnosed by a doctor with an illness that was unfamiliar to me, I contacted the Community Health Resource Center at Yampa Valley Medical Center and asked if they could provide information.

"The volunteer staff was very helpful and gave me several different papers on the subject along with pictures. The various papers gave several options for treatment. With this information I was able to discuss these options with the doctor. He was able to explain why some would work and others would not because of the severity of my condition.

"I felt very comfortable with the final decision because I had such knowledge available to me. Many thanks to the center volunteers and to Yampa Valley Medical Center for having this incredibly valuable service available to the public."

The Community Health Resource Center, a free medical lending library at Yampa Valley Medical Center, has helped many local citizens, including the Steamboat Springs man who wrote this note of thanks.

Operated entirely by volunteers who can research and provide a variety of medically oriented information, the center has about 1,000 books and videotapes. Topics range from Alzheimer's disease to alternative diets, yoga and tai chi.

Some well-stocked sections include diabetes, pain management, men's health, wellness and fitness, coping and inspiration, midlife/menopause, and cancer care. The center has an impressive collection on nutrition, including cookbooks.

In addition, the volunteer team is prepared to research and provide information regarding medical conditions, medications and diagnostic tests, to name a few. Examples of topics of recent searches performed for patrons include:

- Hip and knee replacements

- Pregnancy and children's health

- Prostate cancer treatments

- Parkinson's disease

- Scleroderma

- Crohn's disease

- Rheumatoid arthritis

- Autism

Another service the center offers is background information on physicians, dentists and clinics. Whether individuals want to know more about local doctors or are looking for an out-of-state specialist for a family member, the center can help.

Physicians and employees at YVMC use the Resource Center on a regular basis. Access to the Medical Library at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver allows the center to receive up-to-date medical journal articles. Although these articles tend to be very technical and aimed at medical professionals, they are available to patrons of the Resource Center at no charge.

The center also subscribes to the New England Journal of Medicine and the Lancet, making these renowned medical journals available to the public.

Some people use the Resource Center not for themselves but for a family member. A patron recently asked for information that might help her friend's teenage child who was suffering from migraine headaches. The center was able to supply information about causes, prevention and treatment of adolescent migraines.

Each information search is individualized. Center volunteers assist people who don't know how to initiate an Internet search. There are several reliable Web sites that anyone can access if they know where to look.

The Resource Center is located in the main corridor of the hospital, near the main lobby and across the hall from SportsMed. During the summer, it is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. Patrons may walk in or call 870-1173.

There is no charge for using the center. Please feel free to come by and browse the collection or request a search on a medical topic of interest to you. All patron inquiries are handled in confidence, following YVMC privacy practices.

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