Denise Gardner is among 14 volunteers at the Community Health Resource Center who help people learn more about health conditions and diagnoses, test results, alternative therapies, medications and a plethora of other health-related topics.

Tamera Manzanares/Courtesy

Denise Gardner is among 14 volunteers at the Community Health Resource Center who help people learn more about health conditions and diagnoses, test results, alternative therapies, medications and a plethora of other health-related topics.

Aging Well: Community Health Resource center helps people find accurate information

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This article originally was published May 24, 2010. It has been updated for accuracy.

Free health resource

The Community Health Resource Center at Yampa Valley Medical Center has knowledgeable volunteers available to help people understand or learn more about almost any health-related topic. The center also contains books available for check-out, medical newsletters and journals.

The center is located to the left of the hospital lobby across from SportsMed. It is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays during summer. Volunteers also can be reached at 970-870-1173 and by email at resource@yvmc.org...

Tai Chi for Diabetes

Join Aging Well and Integrated Health at Yampa Valley Medical Center for a gentle tai chi class aimed at helping participants improve their strength and flexibility and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

The class will be from 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays, starting this week and ending July 6. The cost is $32. Registration is required. For more information or to register, call Integrated Health at 970-875-2731.

Managing personal health or the health of a loved one can be stressful.

While juggling appointments, medications, mounting bills and insurance, people often face tough decisions about treatment, finances, living situations and other health issues.

Information can be a person’s best friend in this situation, but only if it’s clear, up-to-date and accurate. Too much or too little information, or information that is hard to understand, can leave a person feeling overwhelmed and unprepared.

The Community Health Resource Center, located in a small office in Yampa Valley Medical Center, exists to help people build knowledge and sift through information surrounding a health topic.

A free service, the center is staffed by volunteers from medical and professional backgrounds equipped with the knowledge and tools to pinpoint what people want to know.

From ankylosing spondylitis to Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia, volunteers pool their skills to find answers to almost any health question.

Their biggest challenge, however, is making sure people know the center exists.

A person does not have to be a hospital patient or employee to visit the center, request a medical search or check out one of the many books available. The service is open to everyone.

The Community Health Resource Center opened in 2000 with the current hospital at Central Park Drive. It was planned and implemented by Lisa Bankard, now director of wellness and community education at the hospital, and former Routt County resident Allison Frederick, now a writer and marketing consultant on the Front Range.

Nancy Bretz has been coordinating the center — training volunteers, managing and monitoring circulation and conducting medical searches — since 2001.

Generous gifts from community members and businesses, in addition to the dedication of volunteers, have sustained the valuable service.

The center is a win-win situation for volunteers and the community.

Volunteers include a retired oncologist, respiratory therapist, dental hygienist and teacher as well as people with backgrounds in public health, medical research and aeronautics.

A recently arrived volunteer worked for 10 years at one of the several resource centers at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Although they have varying skills and expertise, volunteers share a love for helping people and, because of their backgrounds, are sensitive to emotions and privacy issues related to health.

Many of the volunteers understand medical terminology that sets most peoples’ heads spinning. Physical or mental health conditions, diagnoses, test results, medications, alternative treatments and therapies and procedures are among the many areas where volunteers provide help.

“Our volunteers answer questions simply and thoroughly for people who seek additional help in understanding the information they or a family member receive,” Bretz said.

Part of the challenge of finding information is knowing where to look. Volunteers have access to several subscription-only medical websites where they can find the most up-to-date information.

People can do their own research on a computer available in the office for that purpose or peruse articles and abstracts from publications such as The Lancet, the American College of Cardiology and the New England Journal of Medicine, as well as health news from the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins and other institutions.

Volunteers also may order medical publications for clients from the Health Sciences Library at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Denver.

The center has about 1,500 health-related books on many health topics.

The Community Health Resource Center is located in the hallway to the left of the hospital lobby, across from SportsMed. It is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays during summer.

People are welcome to call or leave a message for volunteers at 970-870-1173 or email resource@yvmc.org.

Tamera Manzanares writes for the Aging Well program and can be reached at tmanzanares@nwcovna.org. Aging Well, a division of Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, is a community-based program of healthy aging for adults 50 and older. For more information, visit www.agingwelltoday.com or call 970-871-7676.

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