Almost every weekday, there is a volunteer at Yampa Valley Medical Center's Community Health Resource Center to help anyone who needs information on a medical topic.
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The Community Health Resource Center at YVMC offers a small, diverse medical lending library staffed by dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers who are available to do free information and article searches.
Since it opened nearly 14 years ago, hundreds of hospital patients, medical professionals and community members have benefited from the guidance and knowledge provided by the volunteers at the center.
Now, volunteers hope more people will take advantage of the resource center in its new home in YVMC’s east wing (former location of the Doak Walker Care Center).
“We just need to get people here to see what we have and what we can do for them,” longtime volunteer Sandy Berger said.
Previously located in a small room across from SportsMed, the resource center’s new location offers reading tables and good lighting for perusing library materials. The center also has a small meeting room, which can be used as a place for patrons to discuss medical issues with volunteers more discreetly.
The resource center likely will get added exposure as YVMC continues to expand into the east wing, located just beyond the cafeteria.
“We are very fortunate to be able to offer this service to the community,” said Mindy Fontaine, development specialist for the Healthcare Foundation for YVMC. “With our anticipated growth, the resource center will only become more valuable in the future.”
The resource center’s well-organized library has about 2,000 items including DVDs, textbooks and a medical fiction section. Every other month, the resource center provides an online newsletter containing three reviews of books and DVDs from the library. The library also subscribes to medical journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine and newsletters from medical institutions such as the Mayo Clinic.
Physicians, nurses and other medical professionals work with volunteers to find articles on specific topics. The library subscribes to online medical databases and can order print articles and publications through the University of Colorado Health Sciences Library.
The resource center can be a particularly welcome source of information to individuals recently diagnosed with a disease or condition. Whether they are looking for a book or up-to-date articles about causes, treatments or medications, volunteers are ready to help.
“There’s hardly a subject we can’t find information about,” Berger said.
Armed with information, patients feel less overwhelmed and better prepared to be their own health advocate, said Nancy Bretz, a retired medical researcher who has volunteered as the resource center’s coordinator since shortly after it opened.
“If someone is diagnosed with something serious, they need to be fully informed,” she said. “I feel very strongly about that.”
Anyone can visit the resource center or request a free medical information search. Some visitors come to the resource center for information about nutrition, exercise and ways to improve their lifestyle. Volunteers also have taken calls from individuals living out-of-state looking for resources to help local family members.
Bretz and Berger are among about 10 volunteers at the resource center. Some, like Bretz, have a medical background that helps them breakdown medical terminology and information for patrons. All the volunteers share an eagerness for helping people and are sensitive to emotions and privacy issues related to health.
At this time, the resource center needs additional volunteers. Volunteers commit about three hours per week or are available to occasionally fill in as substitutes. To volunteer at the resource center, call 970-870-1146.
The Community Health Resource Center is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. For more information or to request a medical information search, call 970-870-1173 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.