Free medical screenings give you the power to improve health

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Valley West Community Hospital in Sandwich has expanded its free “Know Your Numbers” screening program to include more time for individual attention to each client. The hospital is now offering personal appointments. | File photo

Know Your Numbers Personal Appointments

Screenings include cholesterol and blood sugar levels, blood pressure, body mass index and waist size measurement. All screenings are aimed at helping you decrease your risk for disease.

7:30 -10:30 a.m. on the following dates:

May 14, 23

June 11, 27

July 9, 25

Aug. 13, 22

Valley West Community Hospital

11 E. Pleasant Ave.

Sandwich, Ill. 60548

Free. Telephone appointments required: call (815) 786-3962

Taking a cue from the adage that knowledge is power, Valley West Community Hospital has expanded its free “Know Your Numbers” screening program to include more time for individual attention to each client.

“Now we are offering personal appointments that allow for more private, one-on-one health education for each person” who comes in to get a host of health screenings all in one place, said Cindy Johnston, RN, Valley West community wellness manager.

The screenings include finger stick blood tests that measure cholesterol and blood sugar levels instantly, as well as other tests that record a person’s blood pressure, body mass index (BMI) and waist measurement.

“Once we have that data, we are able to come up with some individual action steps for people to consider,” Johnston said. “We know patients are not going to be taking on whole lifestyle changes after this screening, but we can give people a realistic starting point for making small and meaningful changes.’’

“Our goal is to help build awareness about the many ‘silent’ risk factors for heart disease, especially high blood pressure and cholesterol,’’ she said. “If you haven’t seen a physician in a while, you don’t know if your pressure is normal.”

When nurses find numbers that are concerning, they encourage clients to follow up right away with their physicians.

“While of course we don’t want to find troublesome readings, when we do, we can provide counseling on the spot. That can be very satisfying. We can take the time in a half-hour appointment to talk about lifestyles and current health habits,” Johnston said.

On the other hand, Johnston pointed out that clients with “healthy” numbers also can pick up pointers for continuing to maintain good health. So she said the service isn’t just for people who have avoided physician visits. In addition to the nurse/client discussion, the program offers a wide range of printed health education materials.

Because blood tests are involved, clients are required to fast before the testing. But the program offers healthy, light breakfast foods for clients to enjoy after the appointment.

“So nobody has to leave hungry,” Johnston said.

The original “Know Your Numbers” program started quarterly in 2010 and has grown steadily, providing 275 free screenings for community members in 2012, according to Johnston.

The service is now offered twice a month and is aimed at adults age 20 and over. Appointments are only made over the telephone so that clients may receive fasting instructions when they register.