Letter to the Editor: Why health fairs are important

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Dear Editor:
The health fairs in Meeker and Rangely on Saturday are a great opportunity to think about your own (and your family’s) situation and be sure you have an accurate understanding of your true health. By that, I don’t mean if you just “feel” OK. I encourage you to know the facts about your cardiovascular health, risk for certain cancers, kidney function and likelihood to develop diabetes. Luckily, the easy way to do it is a simple blood draw.
Blood is the key to a wealth of information about your health — past, present and future.
I am Joyce Goff, the lab manager at Pioneers Medical Center in Meeker. I have dedicated my life to being a medical technologist, which requires a bachelor’s degree and medical training and, for me, includes voluntary certification by the American Society of Clinical Pathology. My team in the lab at Pioneers Medical Center spends the day collecting and analyzing blood, urine and other samples to determine an individual’s health. Last year alone, we performed more than 70,800 lab tests, including nearly 4,000 venipunctures (blood draws).
This is a responsibility my team, which also includes medical laboratory technicians Teresa Murray and Danica Hebert, takes seriously. From cancer and heart disease to anemia or infection, laboratory tests help determine the presence, extent or absence of disease and can also monitor the effectiveness of treatment. A recent medical journal article estimated that between 60 to 70 percent of all decisions — including a patient’s diagnosis and treatment, hospital admission and discharge — are based on laboratory test results.
In a nutshell, a quick blood test or urine sample truly offers a powerful snapshot into our health.
The Channel 9Health Fair in Meeker will offer free or low-cost health screenings in our community from 7 to 11 a.m. at Meeker Elementary School. I encourage you to consider these blood tests:
Lipid Panel to measure your cholesterol (both “bad” LDL and “good” HDL) and triglyceride levels, which often predict your risk for cardiac disease and heart attack; complete Blood Count (CBC) to check for unknown infections and to rule out anemia, among others; comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) to check electrolytes, blood sugar, kidney function and liver health; and your Hemoglobin A1C, which allows a laboratory to determine your average blood sugar level to detect diabetes or monitor diabetes progression.
Don’t forget that these tests are only accurate when you adhere to the testing guidelines. So, yes, you need to fast for the full 12-hours prior to your blood tests on Saturday. That includes no caffeine, sips of soda or nibbles of a bagel. However, do be sure to drink lots of water to stay hydrated and make your blood draw go smoother.
If you can’t make the 9Health Fair, though, don’t worry. You can always participate in Pioneers Medical Center’s Trails to Health Program, which includes a free community health component called Blazin’ Trails and a low-cost preventative healthcare program that offers critical health screenings, annual physical exams and education. All of us at Pioneers Medical Center are here to serve our community and help you stay as healthy as possible. Please do take advantage of these great opportunities to start your own journey toward better health!
For more information about the Channel 9Health Fair, Trails to Health Program and the laboratory department at Pioneers Medical Center, visit www.PioneersHospital.org.
Joyce Goff