Monday Medical: Easy steps for good health

Susan Cunningham
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Editor’s Note: This story is Part 2 of a 2-part series recapping our favorite health tips from 2022. Part 1 focuses on taking care of mental health.

Creating a healthy lifestyle doesn’t always have to be hard: local providers share some easy steps for good health below.

Take your vitamins

Vitamins and minerals are critical to good health, from immune system function, to the formation of bones.

“The body has thousands of chemical reactions occurring in every one of its cells,” said Pam Wooster, a registered dietitian nutritionist at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. “Minerals and vitamins are vital to these chemical reactions.”

While fresh foods grown or raised in nutrient- and mineral-rich soil can be the best source for vitamins and minerals, many people find a supplement may be helpful. Wooster’s top recommendations for supplements include those that help with the immune system.

“Immune health remains a high priority for many people right now. With that, zinc, selenium, the many B vitamins, Vitamin C and Vitamin D will continue to be a focus,” she said. “Talk with a registered dietitian nutritionist or your health care provider to properly evaluate the vitamins and minerals you’re getting in your diet to determine whether or not a supplement might be appropriate.”

Get an annual exam

Annual exams are more than simply measuring your current height, weight and blood pressure.

“An annual exam covers a wide range of topics — physical health, mental health, changes in family history and a number of screenings,” said Jim Zimmerman, a physician assistant who works at Little Snake River Clinic, managed by UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, in Baggs, Wyoming. “We want to get a full picture of your current health because proactively addressing health issues is always better than reacting to them.”

Annual exams provide an opportunity to update vaccinations, to take bloodwork to identify potential issues, and to review age-based screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies.

Be prepared for emergencies

If you have to call 911, small steps such as making sure your address is visible and having a list of current medications ready can help responders provide the best care possible.

When responders arrive, don’t hesitate to share medical conditions or drug and alcohol use.

“Patients can sometimes be guarded with medics, but if we get differing information between medics and hospital staff, that can cause confusion and delays,” said Dr. Dave Richter, an emergency medicine physician at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center and the Emergency Medical Services medical director for Routt County. “People should provide medical history, social history, and any drug and alcohol use up front so we can treat them correctly.”

After calling for help, stay on the line with the dispatcher while you wait for help to arrive. “They’ll give medical advice, such as how to open the airway and start CPR, so being on the line is a huge resource,” Richter said.

Consider what you’re googling

When a new symptom pops up, be wary of heading straight to google.

“While yes, there is a lot of good information from reputable resources to be found online, there’s also a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to health topics,” said Dr. Michelle Jimerson, a family medicine physician in Steamboat Springs and a member of the medical staff at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center.

Consult reputable sources, such as the National Institutes of Health or American Academy of Family Physicians, and reach out to your provider whenever you have a concern.

“So much of any diagnosis lies in the patient’s history, a physical exam, possibly blood work or imaging — no bot or internet search will know those aspects,” Jimerson said. “The medical relationships we build over time with our patients allow us to know them, which in turn allows us to deliver the care they need.”

Don’t forget that online searches may lead you to expect the worst. For most people, a headache does not indicate cancer.

“Don’t jump to conclusions until you’ve followed up with your medical provider who knows your medical history and current health situation,” said Jimerson.

Susan Cunningham writes for UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.