By Shannon Whitney
This summer, keep your eyes peeled in Columbia and the surrounding 26 counties for Boone Hospital Center’s new Know Your Numbers mobile health unit.
The brightly painted orange van will be parked in front of grocery stores, schools and other public venues. Anyone is welcome to duck in for a quick, free WELLAWARE check up. It will be the most convenient way to learn your cholesterol level, blood sugar level, triglycerides, blood pressure and body mass index.
Barb Danuser, the executive director of the Boone Hospital Foundation, was instrumental in the planning and funding of the Know Your Numbers Unit.
“The purpose is to encourage people to know their numbers and learn about ways to improve their health,” she said.
The interior is customized to meet the specifications of WELLAWARE, Boone Hospital’s health and wellness program. A staff of five or six nurses, dieticians, nutritionists and other WELLAWARE staff will travel Mid-Missouri offering the same services on the road.
The Mobile Health Unit is specially designed to be calming and welcoming. Hospital staff that will be working in the van gave input on everything from the colors, to the cabinets, to the skylight. The finishing touches are being added and the van should be delivered early this summer.
Although it is possible and encouraged to make an appointment, anyone is welcome to stop by for a quick check.
“Some people don’t take the time to schedule an appointment at a physician’s office,” Danuser said. “This is a quick and convenient option between checkups.”
Everyone should still visit a physician once a year, but learning your numbers between these checkups is a great way to keep tabs on your health. It gives everyone a chance to learn about his or her body and get a head start on making lifestyle changes before seeing a doctor.
Jeff Zimmermann is the supervisor of Health Promotions at Boone Hospital Center. He says the nurses and staff members enjoy seeing people come back carrying a card with last year’s numbers. He sees people who keep up with their numbers stay motivated to stick with healthy choices and make improvements. This relates directly to Boone Hospital’s mission of improving the health of people and communities it serves.
Each year, there is a bigger demand for wellness exams at the hospital as well as on site services. This mobile health unit will help meet the community demand, according to Zimmermann.
He also believes the state of Missouri has a need for these services. “Missouri ranks low on the list of the healthiest states,” Zimmermann said. “We’ve got a community that wants to be healthy. It’s a matter of educating people and getting them informed and excited about how easy it is.”
A campaign by the Boone Hospital Foundation raised $175,000 in 2010 for building the mobile health unit. The Board of Trustees matched these donations and funded the other half of the project. Continuing donations will keep the Know Your Numbers unit stocked and on the road in the future. The donations also make it possible to offer all of the services for free.
“This service is important to the people in our own community,” Zimmermann said. “The community donated the money so the foundation could give back to the community.”