Make Regular Screenings Part of Your New Year's Resolution to Be Healthier
Washington Community Health Resource Library offers free screenings and more
Last week, if you're like nearly half of all Americans, you made one or more New Year's resolutions. Among the top ten most common resolutions are losing weight and promising to keep fit and healthy. In fact, weight loss is the most popular New Year's resolution in the U.S., with more than one-third of American resolution makers promising themselves to shed pounds in the coming year.
Making a resolution and following through over the long term are two different things. When it comes to a commitment to good health, it's important to have useful, accessible resources and support. Screenings are a vital tool in helping to prevent disease or identify problems early. One handy place in our community where you can get free health screenings is the Washington Community Health Resource Library.
The Library is located on the first floor of the Washington West building next to Washington Hospital at 2500 Mowry Avenue, Suite 100, in Fremont. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is free and open to the public.
"Washington Hospital's focus is on prevention, and the Library was created so community members can access the health information they need to help them live a healthier lifestyle," said Ruth Traylor, the Hospital's director of Community Outreach. "We offer free screenings as another avenue people can take to learn about their health."
According to MedLinePlus, a Web site of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a screening is a test or exam done to find a condition before symptoms begin.
"Screening tests may help find diseases or conditions early, when they are easier to treat," adds the NIH. "Which tests you need depends on your age, your sex, your family history and whether you have risk factors for certain diseases."
At the Washington Community Health Resource Library, you can be screened for osteoporosis and check your blood pressure. The blood pressure screening also measures your height, weight and body mass index (BMI). BMI helps to assess how close your body weight is to what is thought to be normal or desirable for a person of your height.
Blood pressure screening is done at a self-service blood pressure screening station in the Library. For the osteoporosis screening, an ultrasound detects the risk of osteoporosis by measuring for the bone mineral density through the heel bone. For this test, a person removes one shoe and sock or stocking and places their heel in the machine for measurement.
The tests are simple and painless, each taking less than five minutes to complete. Trained volunteers are available to assist, and no appointment is necessary. Screenings are available Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
"Our Library is dedicated to providing medical information that will help people make informed decisions about their health and health care," explained Lucy Hernandez, the Library's operations coordinator. "We have a variety of books, magazines, journals, videos and DVDs. For people who have resolved to lose weight, we have many books and cookbooks about weight loss and living a healthier lifestyle."
In addition to its large collection of consumer-related healthcare books and DVDs, the Library has expanded to include clinical-based medical journals, like The New England Journal of Medicine. It also provides online access to a number of medical Web sites. Volunteers are available to help visitors navigate the internet, if they need assistance.
"In addition to our 'public' PCs, we have become equipped with Wi-Fi. So, if you received a tablet computer over the holidays, this is the perfect time to come in and use it to connect to the wealth of information available on some of the Web-based, health-related sites," added Hernandez.
Another recent addition to the Library is a young adult section, which focuses on topics of interest to teens.
The Library also takes important health information out into the community. For the past five years, it has been visiting elementary school classrooms in Washington Hospital Health Care District to teach first through third graders about hand hygiene.
"We conduct a 30-minute, interactive presentation for kids, and each student receives a packet of information to take home and share with their family," Hernandez related. "This is a vitally important health topic, as proper hand washing is the most important thing we can all do to prevent the spread of infection."
Schools in the District that wish to have the hand hygiene presentation for their students should call the Library at (510) 494-7009.
To learn more about the Washington Community Health Resource Library, come by for a visit Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. You can also visit the Library's Web site at www.healthlibrary.org. To learn more about health screenings, visit MedLinePlus, a Web site of the National Institutes of Health at www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus.