Monday Medical: Committed to health and wellness

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What is the first thing you think of when you hear Yampa Valley Medical Center? Maybe it’s the Family Birth Place, where hundreds of families welcome their newborn babies every year.

Perhaps you’ve needed emergency care in the middle of the night or know someone who has. Or maybe you have had surgery, a laboratory test, a mammogram or any other diagnostic exam.

Many people count on Yampa Valley Medical Center for these traditional and obvious hospital-based services. A large number of Northwest Colorado residents also are becoming aware of our growing emphasis on health promotion through education.

In an era of rapidly rising health care costs, our community hospital is increasing its focus on wellness. Taking a brief look back, it is exciting to see that in the past 17 months we presented 21 free health talks and programs featuring physicians and other experts.

More than 3,600 people took advantage of free screenings and low-cost blood tests through our annual Health Fair, Senior Health Fair and early blood draws in the past four years.

And then there is our focus on cancer, a seemingly relentless and often random disease that has taken a very high toll in our community.

During March and May 2012, YVMC:

■ Presented educational programs about colorectal cancer and melanoma to 287 people in Steamboat Springs, Craig, Granby and Kremmling. We’re especially pleased with our three physician-led melanoma awareness presentations to students in Steamboat Springs High School health classes.

■ Distributed free Hemosure colorectal cancer screening kits to 91 people. Seventy-three tests were returned, resulting in five positive findings and recommendations for follow-up screening.

■ Gave away 400 samples of broad-spectrum sunscreen to promote prevention of melanoma and other skin cancer.

■ Hosted a free luncheon program featuring a national author and speaker on the topic of “Empowered Healing.” Sixty-four residents of Colorado and Wyoming attended.

■ Posted a melanoma awareness quiz on our website, attracting 212 responses and awarding prizes to 12 winners.

In addition, we focused on colorectal cancer and melanoma in various communications, including Monday Medical columns, Thriving Together e-newsletters and posts on the YVMC Facebook page.

Our goal with all of these communications, screenings, educational programs and giveaways was to promote prevention and early detection of these all-too-common cancers. We currently are planning educational offerings for September to increase awareness of prostate cancer.

If you’re interested in connecting with our wellness efforts, we encourage you to “YVM-see” our website, www.yvmc.org. You will find our free Taking Care of Me talks and other events on our calendar and a link to sign up for Thriving Together.

We like hearing from our readers and people who attend our programs, so if you have a suggestion for a health column or talk, please pass it along. You can reach us by calling 970-871-2500 or emailing wellness@yvmc.org.

We’re serious about wellness promotion and hope to make a difference in everyday health here in the Yampa Valley and beyond.

Christine McKelvie is the public relations director of Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at christine.mckelvie@yvmc.org.

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