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More work needed on Colorado health reinsurance bill

DENVER (AP) — Democrat Kerry Donovan says she thought agricultural and water issues would be her top priority when she was elected a Colorado state senator representing a central Rocky Mountain district in 2015.

But Donovan says that district has become the nation’s most expensive individual health care market — and health care is her constituents’ top concern. She is co-sponsoring a bill designed to have an almost immediate impact on reducing those premiums by having the state help insure the insurers.

A scheduled Senate committee hearing on the bill was postponed Thursday over concerns its proposed payment mechanism may not yet meet federal rules, Donovan said. She said the bill’s sponsors planned to work over the weekend to find a solution.

The bill would make the state cover some of the most costly medical bills incurred by patients on Colorado’s individual market, or about 250,000 people who buy health coverage directly from insurers.

Legislative economists estimate the program would cost $237 million in fiscal year 2020-21, including $120 million in state funds and $117 in federal funds.

That would allow private insurers to lower market premiums. Residents in Vail, Eagle and Aspen — as well as the Western Slope, San Luis valley and the eastern plains — frequently pay $500 a month more than Denver residents.

“When I say people are choosing between health care and a mortgage, that’s not exaggerated,” Donovan said this week. She says reinsurance, also a top priority for Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, could deliver an immediate 35% to 40% reduction in individual premiums in rural Colorado and a 15 percent reduction in Denver.

Statewide, individual market premiums could drop by an average 21 percent starting in 2020, according to a legislative analysis of the bill.

Co-sponsoring the bill are Republican Rep. Janice Rich of Grand Junction, Republican Sen. Bob Rankin of Carbondale and Democratic Rep. Julie McCluskie of Dillon.

The Colorado Hospital Association opposed the bill until a draft calling for reinsurance payments to hospitals to be set at rates correlating to lower Medicare payments was eliminated.

A rulemaking process would determine when state reinsurance kicks in for individual patients. As currently written, the program would be partly funded by hospital fees over five years up to a maximum $500 million, federal funds and revenue bonds to be issued by the Division of Insurance.

“One of our goals this year is to lead by example. If we’re going to tackle affordability, it’s going to take all of us,” said Julie Lonborg, the hospital association’s vice president of communications.

If the bill becomes law, the hospital association will participate in rulemaking and crafting a state request for federal permission to implement the program. That request is needed because roughly two-thirds of the program will be paid for with federal funds currently used for tax subsidies for patients purchasing insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Any changes to the bill would have to pass the Senate and be sent back to the House for its concurrence. The legislative session is set to end May 3.

At least seven states have seen rates drop by as much as 20 percent after adopting reinsurance programs, according to the National Council of State Legislatures. Others are seeking U.S. approval.

Grand River Health’s 9Health Fair draws 800

Haims column: Living with Parkinson’s and turning challenges into success

Life has a way of presenting us with many challenges. Those that face the challenges, those that have the fortitude and perseverance, experience success.

Over the years, I have had to take more than a couple of “profile” tests. Perhaps my first was with a college advisor who explained to me that such a test would help him, and me, better understand my personality traits and therefore be helpful in directing me to a college best suited to me and my goals. I took another when applying to the Air Force and another when purchasing Visiting Angels.

I have found a reoccurring question often found in these test — “tell me about your heroes.” Steadfastly, I have always responded that I do not have heroes. Rather, I have people I respect and admire. Consistently, all such people are those who have experienced adversity and turned challenges into success.

Life is a challenge

Challenges are a part of life. Without them, life would be meaningless, as we’d have little understanding of achievement and failure. Life would be complacent and boring.

Facing and living through life’s challenges and adversities provides us with experience that define our lives. The secret to our successes is rooted in our challenges, failures and adversities.

As with any ailment, people have the choice of letting the disease take over or fighting back. Fighting back against Parkinson’s is taking many people to places they may have never thought of. Some are attending yoga, Tai Chi, pool exercise programs, and even the boxing ring.

Recently, I assisted a few locals to a Parkinson’s therapy session at a somewhat unlikely place — a martial arts and boxing studio. If the paradox is not clear, let me illuminate. PD inhibits movement, and boxing is all about movement.

Research is showing that non-contact boxing is therapeutically beneficial for Parkinson’s patients — physically and mentally. Physically, boxing is proving to help balance, agility and hand-eye coordination. Mentally, boxing provides a stress release and is empowering. The sport teaches people to be mentally strong and overcome adversity. If nothing else, a right hook to a punching bag or strike mitt can curb anger and can be quite cathartic.

One gentleman in the group is just shy of his 90th birthday. I was informed that prior to his joining the boxing program, his family was distraught that they could not motivate him to get out of the chair. As I sat and watched him work out, I was quite impressed every time I heard the loud crack from his hands as he hit the hand pads of the instructor. Should I make it to be close to 90 years of age, I hope I move as deftly as he. He is inspirational and has turned formidable adversity into success.

Others in the group were in their 70s and 80s. Each had donned their red boxing gloves except for one who danced around the floor mats in bright pink gloves. Yes, women too participate.

Watching the camaraderie of this group and their united front to work through the difficulties this movement disorder presents them with is encouraging to me and should be encouraging to anyone who may be fighting a health ailment.

I admire each and every one of these people. They have not given up, nor do they whine and ask “why me.” While I am sure each has had their down moments, they have not thrown in the towel and given up. They have chosen to fight adversity.

My mother has Parkinson’s Disease (PD), as did my grandmother. It sucks. But does Parkinson’s suck more or less than cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), cardiovascular diseases, ALS, vision or hearing loss?

While many people living in our valley are pretty fit and try to be healthy, it won’t last forever. If we want to remain in the valley we love when life’s challenges present themselves, we must take action now to promote and develop resources that can help us stay here.

Within the past three months, I know of four long-time locals that have had to leave the valley they love because we do not have the resources needed to assist them. (I’m sure there are many more.)

There are organizations that are being proactive. Howard Head has developed a program called Brain & Balance. The program helps treat stroke patients, Parkinson’s patients, and those with impaired balance and proprioception concerns. Additionally, the Parkinson’s Association of the Rockies has brought Power Punch to both our community and Colorado.

We are all going to get old and experience challenges with our health. Get involved, donate, better utilize resources we already have, and think out of the box. These are things we can do to help build a community that will assist us in ensuring we can remain in the valley we love.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Glenwood Springs, Basalt, Aspen and the surrounding areas. He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. His contact information is, www.visitingangels.com/comtns, 970-328-5526.

Child vaccination rate low in some areas of the Roaring Fork Valley

Immunization rates for measles, mumps, polio and other highly contagious diseases show that some local schools are at a much higher risk of an outbreak than others.

Garfield County’s westernmost school districts, Garfield 16 and Garfield Re-2, had higher complete immunization rates. Garfield 16 had vaccination rates of 95 percent, and Re-2 had a 96 percent immunization rate for each vaccine except for chickenpox.

Schools in the geographical region of the Roaring Fork School District Re-1, however, had a lower average immunization rate of 93 percent for measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), polio and diphtheria, according to self-reported data collected by the state and provided by Garfield County Public Health.

The private Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork, the Re-1 district’s Crystal River Elementary School, the state charter Ross Montessori School in Carbondale, and the Glenwood Springs Montessori preschool have the highest risk of outbreak due to either low immunization rates or a high number of personal exemptions, according to data collected by the state from individual schools.

Waldorf School has the highest exemption rate in Garfield County, with 62 percent of kindergarten student parents claiming personal exemptions to MMR and polio vaccines. In the older grades, 47 percent of Waldorf students claimed personal exemptions to MMR, and 43 percent have exemptions from polio vaccine.

“As a school, our position is to inform and implement our related policies and allow families to choose in freedom their own course of action,” Larry Smith, business administrator for Waldorf, said in an email.

The majority of those exemptions are personal, not religious, according to the state’s data.

“Personally, I believe that achieving a goal of higher immunization rates is not the job of a school, but one for the health care system and community health organizations,” Smith said.

Parents should be informed before or around the time of childbirth, he said, not when the children reach school.

state law, with exceptions

Diseases such as measles, which is known to spread rapidly, require roughly a 95 percent vaccination rate for each vaccine to help protect the health of students, staff and others in the community, according to the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition.

Per Colorado law and Board of Health Rule, all licensed schools and child care centers are required to report their immunization and exemption rate information annually to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to be made publicly available online.

Garfield Re-2 policy states that “no student may attend or continue to attend any school in the district without meeting the legal requirements of immunization against disease unless the student has a valid exemption for health, religious, personal or other reason as provided by law.”

Theresa Hamilton, Garfield Re-2 director of communications, said the staff does an exceptional job of ensuring that families are up-to-date and informed on their child’s immunization schedule.

“[The district] is very good at helping support parents at being in compliance of state statute,” she added.

While the Re-2 school district showed a low risk of outbreak for all of the state required vaccines, Roaring Fork’s risk was considered to be moderate for many of the diseases.

“It’s our stance that it’s better to be immunized than not immunized,” Roaring Fork District Superintendent Rob Stein said.

Stein said that, in the past year, the district has improved outreach to parents, telling them to gather the appropriate forms proving immunization or exemptions before students start school.

“We’ve probably improved compliance with just the paperwork part. Once someone tells us they’re opting out, though, that’s where our efforts stop,” Stein said.

Depending on the vaccine, the number of Roaring Fork School District students fully immunized ranged from 91 percent to 93 percent for the area, according to health officials.

Despite being similarly sized in terms of student population, the data shows that 206 students in the Roaring Fork School District are exempt from one or more school-required vaccines, while the Garfield School District Re-2 has 108 students exempt.

Compliance a statewide issue

Colorado has the lowest kindergarten vaccination rate in the country at 88.7 percent. The state is one of 17 states that allow personal (as opposed to medical or religious) exemptions to immunization.

To confront that, Colorado state Rep. Kyle Mullica, a Northglenn Democrat, proposed a House Bill 1312 to tighten the process for getting personal exemptions and improve data collection.

The current version of the bill does not remove the exemption for any personal reason, but “formalizes the process in which you obtain these exemptions,” Mullica said Monday during a hearing Monday before the House Committee on Health and Insurance.

Currently, a parent could write an exemption on any piece of paper and it would be valid, Mullica said. Under the new bill, parents would need a certificate of exemption to enroll their children in school.

“We are well below the vaccination rates we need to be at for the vaccines to work, and according to medical experts we are at risk of outbreaks we have seen in other states,” Mullica said.

The committee advanced the bill along a party-line vote Monday.

Doctor’s Tip: Hospitals acquiring medical practices: good or bad?

The answer to this question is not simple or black-and-white. In her book “American Sickness,” Elizabeth Rosenthal, M.D. talks about “the transformation of American medicine in a little over a quarter century from a caring endeavor to the most profitable industry in the United States.” Those who have lived in this area for a long time have witnessed this change in our valley. When I joined Glenwood Medical in 1973, Valley View Hospital was run by the Mennonite Board of Missions, had maybe 25 beds, and I was the 12th doctor on the medical staff. The doctors’ wives helped cook the Christmas dinner for the hospital staff. There was a close relationship between physicians and the hospital, but physician practices were independent of the hospital.

Part of the business plans of hospitals throughout the country now includes buying up physician practices. The majority of physicians in Glenwood work for VVH, and in Rifle most work for Grand River Hospital. On the positive side, the phenomenon of hospitals hiring physicians allows physicians to do what they like to do and what they do best — treat patients, without worrying about administrative duties. It also enables physicians who are struggling financially to stay in town, and provides them with benefits such as retirement plans and health care insurance.

However, there can be downsides to hospital-owned medical practices:

• At least for primary care doctors, there is built-in conflict of interest: Hospitals take care of sick people, and the job of PCPs is to keep their patients well and out of hospitals.

• Almost always, lab and imaging studies in hospitals are more expensive than in free-standing facilities. Some (but not all) hospitals pressure their hired physicians to order lab and imaging from the hospital, which raises costs.

• Some hospitals pressure their physician employees to refer patients to other physicians who work at that hospital, even though an outside consultant might be preferable.

• Sometimes hospitals retain specialists such as orthopedists or neurosurgeons if they generate a lot of income for the hospital, even if they’re incompetent or have other problems that affect their practice.

• Rates for procedures such as upper endoscopies, colonoscopies, and many routine operations are almost always lower in free-standing outpatient facilities. Hospital-owned surgical providers often can’t take advantage of this less-expensive alternative.

• There are anti-trust legal concerns with doctor-hospital mergers.

Martin Gaynor, a health care economist at Carnegie Mellon University, says that “all the evidence that we have so far…indicated that these acquisitions tend to drive up prices, and there’s other evidence that seems to indicate it doesn’t do anything in terms of enhancing quality.” A study of Medicare patients showed that the scenario of hospitals buying up physician practices “caused … health care services to rise $3.1 billion between 2012 and 2015, with beneficiaries facing $411 million more in financial responsibility for these services than they would have if they were performed in independent physicians’ offices.”

Retired physician Greg Feinsinger, M.D., is author of new book “Enjoy Optimal Health, 98 Health Tips From a Family Doctor,” available on Amazon and in local bookstores. Profits go towards an endowment to the University of Colorado School of Medicine to add prevention and nutrition to the curriculum. He is available for free consultations about heart attack prevention, diabetes reversal, nutrition, and other health issues. Call 379-5718 for an appointment. For questions about his column, email gfeinsinger@comcast.net.

Torres column: Help yourself in order to help others

I am blessed to feel that my life is wonderful, even though it’s busy and stressful. You know why? Because hard work pays off. When I want something, I dedicate time and effort to obtain it. It’s common sense: If you work for it, you get it.

The other day I had a conversation with someone who was interested in training at Custom Body Fitness. Let’s call her Penelope. She has lots of things to do, with two sons, a husband, and a job. In fact she would admit to you that she has a very stressful life. However, I have other clients who are in the same boat, yet they make the extra effort that it requires to get the healthy body they want and be happy.

Penelope told me that her sons are first in her life and that she doesn’t really want to take time from them to exercise. She said this even though she admits that she is not happy being overweight. Of course, I didn’t council her to forsake her loved ones. But it seems to me that often people waste more time surfing the web, watching television, or doing other questionable activities instead of investing time in something that will benefit both their bodies and their minds.

Talking with Penelope reminded me of a conversation I had with a young man recently. He was confused about life and had some problems. He confided to me that he felt alone and not accepted by his dad. He even started to cry as we were talking and told me something that I will never forget: “I don’t understand; the Bible says that I need to give before I can get, and people say that I need to take care of myself before I can give.” At the time, I told him, “I understand your confusion. The truth is that both are right. You just need to understand it. Before you can give, you have to have it. If you don’t love yourself, you can’t give love others. If you don’t have money, you can’t give it to who needs it. If you don’t feel safe, you can’t make someone else feel safe. Not that we need to be selfish. Care about you, learn, get it, understand it, but once you are blessed, then give it and care about others.”

So I told Penelope that to be able to give the best to her family, she needed to care of herself a bit more. It wouldn’t do her any good if she only worked like a machine, giving all with no thought to her own self. You have to take care of your health to be able to give the best to your family. And there’s the other concept that a parent needs to set an example for his or her family. Sometimes in my own family, I hear an adult tell a youngster to go to college, and the adult makes excuses that he or she is too old to go back to school. But this is nothing but excuses. Especially in the U.S., age is nothing but a number. If you want people to do something good for themselves or to make the right decisions, be a role model and do something for yourself, so in the future you are not a burden to them.

To conclude, if you really want it, you can get it. All it takes is an extra effort that, sadly, many won’t do. Invest your time in something that is beneficial for you and get rid of bad habits. There are other people in the same situation or even more difficult situations who are have done it. Help yourself so that you’ll be able to help others.

Sandro Torres is owner of Custom Body Fitness in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs and author of the book “Lose Weight Permanently.” His column appears on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month in Body & More.

Area nonprofit Arc of the Central Mountains supports those on the autism spectrum and their loved ones

April is Autism Awareness Month, but for the Arc of the Central Mountains, it’s a year-round job to raise awareness, provide support networks and lobby for those with autism.

The local nonprofit was founded in 2017 and, after securing funding through Arc Thrift Stores along the Front Range, was able to open its doors in the summer of 2018 in the Aspen Professional Building next to the Post Office in Glenwood Springs.

Affiliated with the national organization, The Arc, the local chapter Arc of the Central Mountains serves Garfield, Pitkin, Eagle and Lake counties.

“There is still a lot of mystery around autism, but it really is a very acceptable and accepted diagnosis,” Arc of the Central Mountains Executive Director Jill Pidcock said. “People who have autism can really contribute to the community, to jobs to socialization and I think that just an overall inclusion in the community is super important. It is a broad, broad spectrum.”

According to autismspeaks.org, in 2013 the American Psychiatric Association combined four different autism diagnoses into one diagnosis known as Autism Spectrum Disorder. The four diagnoses were autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified, and Asperger Syndrome.

Now a high school student, Pidcock’s own son was medically diagnosed with autism at the age of 3. Pidcock said that her son was average on the autism spectrum and emphasized, again, just how broad the autism spectrum was.

“You would look at him and not think that he had autism,” Pidcock said. “When he does have a meltdown or an anxiety moment, it is typically misunderstood by those around him because it is not something that you openly expect is going to happen.”

Pidcock explained how there were those who experienced many more challenges cognitively, but like her son still fit on the autism spectrum — a spectrum Pidcock referred to as horizontal, as opposed to vertical.

“People always think that Asperger’s means that children are much more advanced and have a much higher cognitive level, which typically is true but that doesn’t mean that they are not completely affected by autism,” Pidcock said of how the autism spectrum was not a hierarchy of intelligence. “It’s just a different set of needs.”

Pidcock credited organizations like the Roaring Fork Autism Network as a great support system for those on the autism spectrum as well as their loved ones. She hopes to build upon that through the Arc of The Central Mountains.

“[The Roaring Fork Autism Network] was actually created by two moms who have children who have an autism spectrum disorder, and they came together for this very reason,” Pidcock said of the network, which still exists today.

Pidcock said that support systems, particularly in rural, western Colorado communities were not always easy to find, but she hopes to continue to fill that void.

Additionally, the Arc of The Central Mountains works with state representatives and senators concerning bills going through the legislature.

“Autism is considered a pre-existing condition,” Pidcock said. “We want to make sure that any time there is something that is going to keep benefits or grow benefits … that we stay in touch with that.”

This legislative session, the Arc of the Central Mountains has thrown its support behind two bills.

HB 19-1269 deals with issues related to private health insurance, as well as Medicaid coverage of behavioral, mental health and substance use disorder services.

HB 19-1028 adds autism spectrum disorders to disabling medical conditions that authorize a person to use medical marijuana for his or her condition.

Today, autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.

mabennett@postindependent.com

Vail Veterans Program unites caregivers of injured combat vets

VAIL — Imagine walking into a room with two dozen best friends whom you’ve just met.

That’s life this week for a Vail Veterans Program Caregivers Reunion — all caregivers for combat veterans who were injured in Iraq or Afghanistan. Just as heroic as those soldiers are the people who take care of them.

Their stories are as different as they are, yet they have so much in common, beginning with noble and towering sacrifice.

Love won’t wait

Pamela Frustaglio, for example, was engaged to a Marine deployed to the Middle East. An improvised explosive device injured him and seven others with one blast. He lost both legs above the knee. He also suffered a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

But they were engaged to be married and had plans that wouldn’t wait. He’s a Marine to his very marrow, she’s a force of nature and they steadfastly refused to move their wedding date … nine months after he was hit. They didn’t have to. Frustaglio was a resplendent bride. After they said “I do,” he walked her back up the aisle, as he had promised.

Let’s backtrack to the day he was hit, a call every caregiver has received.

Frustaglio was in Portland, Oregon, living her life and waiting for him to come home. She was in a gym working out with a friend when, at about 9 p.m., her cell phone rang. She was never without it after he deployed. It was his parents calling at around midnight their time.

“I knew. As soon as I saw them pop up on the caller ID, I knew,” she said.

She took her friend’s hand and they sat together on a weight bench. Frustaglio thought to ask how her husband’s head was. As people often do when receiving news like this, his parents forgot to ask.

Humor is an excellent coping mechanism and his head, it turns out, is still attached. Her friends at this week’s Caregivers Reunion joke that their husbands are guys, so while their husbands’ heads are attached, whether they’re using them is a different question.

Life’s challenges and so much more

Everyone has challenges as we make our way through day-to-day life. These Caregivers’ lives are complicated further by caring for their families, plus a spouse who consumes attention and is injured at so many levels, plus the stress all of that causes.

“It can be isolating,” Frustaglio said.

Like all of us, they need their people around them.

First and foremost, the Vail Veterans Program’s caregivers retreats show them they’re not alone. Others are going through the same things.

A few years back, there was a group of eight caregivers whose husbands were hit by the same IED. They didn’t know each other all that well. Now they do.

“You feel like you’ve refound yourself,” Frustaglio said. “It’s such a gift.”

Their friends come with them

The caregivers share all kinds of coping ideas, ranging from meditation and a quiet walk in the woods to a Nerf gunfight.

While they’re in town they spend their mornings working through personal training that teaches them that they cannot change their external demands. We all have them. They have more of them.

They can change the way they react to them and how they handle the stress the demands create.

In between they have enough fun all the time and too much fun in spots: Spa treatments, snowmobiling, bowling, skiing. Frustaglio is from the upper Midwest and it didn’t take much muscle memory to remember how to crack open a snowmobile’s throttle.

“That was so much fun,” she said.

This is Frustaglio’s second caregivers retreat. When they were gathered for the final time during that first one, they were asked to describe their experience in one word.

“Serenity,” she said.

Like all families, life cycles happen to families of injured veterans.

“Sometimes things are going along wonderfully, and sometimes something happens and the bottom falls out,” Frustaglio said. “That’s life.”

That’s when she and the other caregivers hark back to the retreat’s lessons in resilience, serenity and lifetime friends and support.

“When we leave we take our friends with us,” she said.

Sports clinic brings disabled vets to Hot Springs Pool

As part of the annual National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass Village recently, participants were able to enjoy soaking time at Glenwood Hot Springs Resort after fun-packed days on the slopes.

After a long week of action on the slopes, these vets — from all branches of service — were able to relax, recover and reconnect with their peers at the Hot Springs.

“I look forward to this trip all year,” retired Marine Corpsman John Papi said. “It’s a reunion with my best friends in hot water. What could be better?”

The Department of Veterans Affairs puts on this clinic each spring, hosted in Snowmass Village. From March 31 to April 5, participants took part in skiing, sled hockey, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, fly fishing, curling, scuba diving, archery and soaking in the world’s largest hot springs pool.

For many veterans, the clinic is an opportunity to travel and get out of their comfort zones.

Maria Garcia and Alice Pursley, for example, met each other 30 years ago in the Army on their first and third tours. They’ve remained best friends and have decided to add this trip as another adventure together.

“As first-timers that live on the beach, it’s been so neat to try new things and play in the snow,” Garcia said. “The best part, though, is connecting with other veterans from around the country who have seen the world.”

The mission of the clinic, according to its website, is to “give disabled veterans an opportunity to develop winter sports skills and participate in challenging, adaptive workshops; in doing so, participants can see past physical or visual disabilities as obstacles to living active and rewarding lives.”

After pushing themselves and trying new things, the hope is that these veterans push toward improvements in physical wellbeing, mental health, self-esteem and community readjustment and re-entry.

This rings true for many clinic-goers. After becoming an amputee, Papi wanted to give back to his community and help others that are going through similar experiences.

“When I lost my leg,” Papi said, “I had a pretty easy time and transition. It’s not like that for everyone. I come here and use my knowledge and experience to help others who might be struggling.”

After pausing to splash his Airforce buddy, Papi continued, “I signed up for the military for a higher purpose, and programs like this one help to give back.”

Kevin Flohr, director of operations at Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, said the resort is proud to be a part of the program and host the veterans.

“It’s our honor to have these special guests and support the Clinic and visiting veterans,” he said. “After their dedicated service to our country, supporting veterans injured in the line of duty is the least we can do.”

Savannah Nelson is communications coordinator for Resort Trends, Inc.

Grand River Health hosts 9Health Fair Saturday in Rifle

Grand River Health’s 9Health Fair is set to take place Saturday, April 13, at Grand River Hospital, 501 Airport Road, in Rifle.

The morning event, from 7–11 a.m., will be held at the hospital and offers a variety of low-cost and free screenings and tests.

Those attending can receive a variety of blood screening tests for prices ranging from $25 to $50, plus free testing including blood pressure, breast, skin, lung function, hearing, vision and more, according to a press release.

There will also be a limited number of free mammograms and DEXA (bone density) scans offered.

Grand River Health partners with 9Health Fair, a statewide organization, to offer the health fair to the community.

Preregistration is offered online for the 9Health Fair. For this year’s prices, screenings and preregistration, go to www.grandriverhealth.org and click on the 9Health Fair icon.

9Health Fair officials add that participants do not need to fast before getting blood tests to ensure the most accurate results.

According to the news release, regular screenings, blood work, and check ups can be essential to good health and can flag potential medical issues.

For more information on the 9Health Fair, call 970-625-6433, visit www.9healthfair.org or call 1-800-332-3078.