Monday Medical: Take a pulse on your health |

Monday Medical: Take a pulse on your health

Susan Cunningham/For Steamboat Today

If you go

What: YVMC Community Health Fair

When: 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Sept. 26. Early blood draws are available Sept. 14 through 17, by appointment only.

Where: Yampa Valley Medical Center

Information: To pre-register or to make an early blood draw appointment, visit

Blood test reminders: Fast for 12 hours before, drink plenty of water (black tea and coffee are OK) and continue to take prescription medicines.

Two years ago, a woman who had recently lost her insurance was facing high costs for routine tests. So she went to Yampa Valley Medical Center’s Community Health Fair.

“She did every screening possible,” said Lisa Bankard, YVMC’s health and wellness manager. “Afterwards, she said, ‘This was the best thing that could happen to me.’”

“That,” Bankard continued, “is why we’re here.”

On Sept. 26, local adults can check in on their overall health with a range of blood tests and health screenings.

A one-stop shopping experience, the health fair offers blood tests, blood pressure readings, skin checks, gut checks and body mass index calculations, as well as screenings on dental health, hearing, vision, balance and lung function. Flu shots and other immunizations will be offered by the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.

Health screenings are free, and the blood tests are priced reasonably. A health profile and complete blood count cost $35 and $15, respectively. Without insurance, those tests can run upwards of $400, Bankard said.

“We want people to come in and get some of the basics and follow up with their care provider,” Bankard said. “It’s a way for them to check in and see how things are going.”

YVMC has been holding the Community Health Fair for more than 35 years, originally with the 9Health Fair, then solely at YVMC since 2008. Each year, the event serves close to 800 community members from Routt County and the surrounding areas.

For the past two years, the health fair was structured to be more of a family event with a focus on safety education. This year, the event is going back to basics.

“People lead very busy lives,” Bankard said. “By toning back the health fair, we can offer a morning of blood tests, immunizations and screenings, all at an affordable low cost or for free. This way, people can get in and out and enjoy the rest of their Saturday.”

A highlight of the health fair series has always been the early blood draws. People can pre-register, pre-pay and make a 15-minute appointment for their blood tests. About 150 people are served in three hours, with very little wait time. Blood pressure checks are available at the same time, along with immunizations. Plus, the early blood draws help keep the wait times during the Health Fair low, typically at 20 minutes or less.

Health screenings can be helpful for adults at any age. Bankard said she’s often surprised by people in their late 30s or early 40s who haven’t had preventive tests.

“Sometimes, unfortunately, the older you get, you really don’t want to wait,” she said. “Lots of people are so active, they think, ‘I exercise all the time, so I’m healthy.’ That’s an awesome thing, but sometimes, there’s more to it.”

To cover your bases and make sure your health is on track, the Community Health Fair is a great place to start.

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

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