Healthy Thursdays

Tri-County Health Network offers free wellness screenings on Thursdays in January from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Learn more at tchnetwork.org. (Photo courtesy of Tri-County Health Network/Facebook)

Each year, millions of people make them, yet hardly anyone keeps them.

According to a study by researchers at Scranton University, the vast majority of New Year’s resolutions are doomed to fail. Just 19 percent of people adhere to these annual pledges, the academics found (“most are abandoned by mid-January”). 

Ruth Honan, a community health worker at Tri-County Health Network, is helping to change those sorry statistics, one person at a time. 

The regional nonprofit is hosting, well, a host of programs over the next few weeks via Zoom, and in person, that focus on the topic of wellness in many forms. Every one of these get-togethers is free. 

“Health is more than healthcare,” the group’s marketing manager, Annemarie Jodlowski, pointed out. “We know gender, race, housing security and food insecurity” all factor into one’s “overall wellness and mental health.” TCH’s mission is “to look for gaps in service because of the region we’re in,” and to help fill those gaps by, in essence, bringing affordable healthcare to you.

A case in point: the nonprofit is offering a series of free dental clinics in January, which have taken place in Telluride, and will soon be held in Ouray County and Naturita (the clinics are expected to continue in February and March). 

There’s a series of free cooking classes entitled “Healthy Cooking on a Budget” coming up, that you can take from home. When a class is full, TCH schedules another, concurrent session, said Homan — who will be offering the cooking classes — “so that everybody gets taken care of.”

In this same, can-do spirit come Healthy Thursdays, a series of free weekly screenings that check your blood pressure and cholesterol. But the tests don’t stop there: they also come with free coaching. The idea is to help avert the risk for a future heart attack or stroke. Homan screened her first group last week (the screenings are held on Thursdays this month from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.). 

“The screenings went really well,” Homan said. Though there’s no expectation that clients will make New Year’s resolutions right there on the spot, “these screenings are timed to the New Year,” Homan said frankly, “with goal-setting a bigger part of it.” The get-togethers last Thursday “went great,” Homan said. As you might guess, they are Covid-safe. 

“We do a Covid screening the day before. If you have any symptoms at all, we ask that you reschedule,” Homan said. “I take everybody’s temperature as soon as they arrive. We’re sanitizing between clients. Everyone’s wearing a mask.” 

The appointment, which takes about 45 minutes, measures ones’ blood glucose levels, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, and blood pressure. 

“We also check your BMI (body mass index), a kind of good, first place to let people know if they’re at a healthy weight,” Homan said. “Based on these numbers, we can tell you whether you have a zero to 10 percent risk of having a heart attack or a stroke in the next 10 years.”

The next step is what to do about it. 

 “The second part of the appointment is setting goals,” Homan said. “Lowering the sodium in your diet, losing weight, there are lots of good ways to approach” getting healthier, based on what the tests reveal. “It depends on what your goal is. We keep checking back with you. I typically check in with clients two weeks later; after that, we’ll check in every month. We’ll be your support. We’ll let you know what to do to get on the right track.”

The advantage of such check-ups is they can save thousands of dollars (and maybe even your life) down the road. It can also make reaching these goals more likely. As Homan put it, “These are realistic, specific things that are measurable and time-based. You don’t just say, ‘I need to lose weight.’ The goal should be, ‘I need to lose five pounds.’ Even losing just five percent of your weight can get you back to healthy numbers. We’re working toward helping you achieve healthy goals that you’ll want to stick with. Some of my clients don’t need to change much, and I won’t check in with them much at all. I had a client the other day who was super-excited and engaged; I’ll probably check in with her at least once a month.” 

Think of it this way: “To get a wellness coach, you could pay $100 an hour,” Homan said. “This service is free.” 

To learn more about Tri-County Health’s upcoming programs, visit tchnetwork.org and click on ‘Events.’ Ruth Homan can be reached directly at 970-729-8030.