Monday Medical: Give the gift of health

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Holiday activity and expenses can distract us from one of the best gifts we can give to ourselves and loved ones: the gift of health.

The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association provides individuals and families with low-cost options to maintain or improve their health and prevent long-term health problems.

The following are ways the VNA can help you or someone you love get 2013 off to a strong start:

■ See a doctor. Northwest Colorado VNA’s Steamboat Springs location, 940 Central Park Drive, Suite 101, will open its Community Health Center in early January. When the center opens, patients will be able to see a doctor on a sliding fee scale, in addition to benefiting from existing VNA services. Prescription assistance also will be available to eligible clients. You now can call to schedule an appointment at 970-879-1632.

■ Get insured. Is a lack of health insurance preventing you or your family from receiving the care that you need? The VNA provides eligibility screening and application assistance for families interested in Family Medicaid or CHP+, the program that provides health and dental insurance for children. Families must meet specific income limits and other requirements for both programs. Families who do not qualify for Medicaid still may be eligible for CHP+. For more information, call 970-871-7616.

■ Get screened. Does a particular disease run in your family? Are you concerned about a health problem? The VNA offers free annual clinical breast exams, Pap tests/pelvic exams and also mammograms to eligible women who are at a high risk for certain cancers. The VNA also provides diabetes and cardiovascular screenings (BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol panel and blood glucose check) at no cost. For more information about screenings, call 970-879-1632.

■ Quit tobacco. An important first step for tobacco users who want to get healthy is to quit their habit. QuitKits with information about how to stop smoking or using smokeless tobacco are available for no cost in the lobbies of Northwest Colorado VNA’s Steamboat and Craig offices. Free cessation support also is available through the Colorado QuitLine: 800-QUIT-NOW.

■ Get vaccinated. Everyone ages 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine annually, especially young children, pregnant women, older adults and people with health conditions. Adult flu shots at the VNA are $25, and flu vaccines for children are $14 or less. A high-dose vaccine for seniors also is available. Drop-in flu clinics are from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. most Thursdays through January at the VNA. Call the flu hotline to verify flu clinic times at 970-871-7624.

Health professionals also are urging adults and children to get vaccinated against Pertussis (whooping cough), a highly contagious respiratory infection that can be deadly to infants. Pertussis vaccines must be kept up to date to be effective. The cost of the vaccine at the VNA is $14 or less. Meningitis, human papillomavirus (HPV) and travel vaccines also are available at VNA. For more information, call 970-879-1632.

■ Exercise. Winter can be a challenging time to get moving, but there are affordable options for developing safe indoor exercise routines. VNA’s Wellness and Aging Services offers fitness classes for adults 50 and older throughout Routt County. There is a $3 requested donation for most classes. Stop by the Northwest Colorado VNA to pick up a winter calendar or call 970-871-7676.

Tamera Manzanares is a community outreach specialist for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.

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