Valerie Reed is a Wellness Navigator at University Hospitals.

(Editor’s note: While New Year’s resolutions are on many people’s minds, the health experts at University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center are helping people set and keep them. Valerie Reed is a Wellness Navigator at UH, and in this post, she advocates for people to take two steps toward improving their health.)

By Valerie Reed

Living a healthier lifestyle is a great New Year’s resolution that will have lasting benefits. The challenge for most people is to figure out what that means, and how to make it happen. As the Wellness Navigator at University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center, I help people take their first steps toward a healthier lifestyle.

If you would like to get started on a path to better health in 2019, I recommend two simple first steps:

Find a primary care provider. You may want to select a physician, a certified nurse practitioner (CNP) or a physician assistant (PA) to be your primary care provider. CNPs and PAs are highly qualified, board-certified medical professionals licensed to provide many of the same services as a physician and work under the supervision of a physician.

Your primary care provider will be your go-to medical person for guiding your overall health. He or she can advise you on diet, exercise, preventive health screenings, smoking cessation and any general health concerns you may have and refer you to a specialist in any of these areas if needed. Many insurance companies cover an annual physical for men and women. Primary care also is the first place you should seek diagnosis or treatment for any illness or disease.

Schedule preventive screenings. Preventive screenings are tests to identify diseases before any obvious symptoms develop. A mammogram to detect breast cancer and colonoscopy to detect colon cancer are two of the most common screenings that you probably have heard about and may have had. Click here to see the preventive health screenings UH recommends for men, women, and kids, and then ask your primary care provider which screenings are best for you. Most insurance companies cover preventive health screenings at 100%.

As the Wellness Navigator, I am available to assist patients in the hospital, emergency room and the community to identify which preventative screenings they meet criteria for and assist the patient with navigating the healthcare system by connecting them with a Primary Care or Specialist or assist with scheduling the test. University Hospital Geauga Medical Center makes it simple to find a primary care provider close to home. Click here, enter your zip code and click “Apply” to view primary care providers nearby. Your primary care provider will advise you on what screenings you should have and help schedule those appointments for you.

If you want more information about making healthy lifestyle decisions, you’ll find many resources at your local library to guide you and I am always available to review which screenings would be beneficial for you or to connect you with a Primary Care Physician. Just call Valerie Reed at University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center at 440-904-0064.

One of my favorite books is Prescription for Life by Richard Furman. The book provides three simple strategies live younger longer.