SVHF creates the Women’s Resource Center

Everyone suffers from stress in their lives, particularly women.  Sonoma Valley Hospital now offers a safe and comfortable environment in which local women of all walks of life can learn how to handle stress and explore other health issues such as pregnancy, puberty, diabetes, menopause, bone health and more.

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Jackie Lyons (left) and Harmony Plenty view the interactive biofeedback program available for free at the Women’s Resource Center.

Kelly Mather, CEO of Sonoma Valley Hospital, tapped Jackie Lyons, Manager of Medical Imagery, to act as Director of Women’s Health and team up with Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation Executive Director, Harmony Plenty, to create the Women’s Resource Center.  Unlike a visit to the doctor, the Center empowers women with self-discovery tools, using interactive video and questionnaires through which women can explore their own lifestyles and family health history privately.  They can learn about the current state of their health and plot a strategy to attain ongoing well being.

It takes funds to build a resource center, so Jackie and Harmony reached out to Impact100 Sonoma and received a $20,000 grant to build the Women’s Resource Center.

“We learned a lot and it was great,” said Harmony Plenty, citing the hospital’s first application to Impact100 in 2012.  “By 2013 we were ready and put our experience in place to apply for a grant for the Women’s Resource Center.”

Initially self-run, the center has plans in place for a bi-lingual navigator to help guide women to the literature, web sites, and interactive programs.  Collaboration is essential, as the Center networks with organizations such as La Luz and Vintage House as well as local media and doctors’ offices to invite women of all ages to take advantage of the center’s free services.

The first thing you notice is that the center is located not at the hospital, but on nearby Perkins Street in a welcoming residential and commercial mixed building with a convenient parking lot.  The pleasant uncluttered space hosts two computer workstations with Internet access, a bookcase of resources in multiple languages, and a rack of literature from sources such as the American Cancer Society.  Fresh white wooden blinds open to give computer users a pleasant view to the ivy-covered wall outside.  And then there’s the purple, comfy easy chair that invites visitors to come relax and read. Ladies, this is YOUR space.

Access to services and information is easy:  One woman came in for her routine mammogram and, citing her mother’s experience with ovarian cancer, asked whether the CA125 test is a reliable one for ovarian cancer.  By the time she was ready to leave, both Jackie and the mammography technician had been to the resource center down the hall and returned with the research they had done online about the test and invited her to the center to explore more on her own.

But it’s not just about research.  The center is about personal growth, too.  “You have to try the biofeedback program,” beamed Jackie.  So I sidled up to a workstation and following some easy directions, connected sensors to three of the fingers on my left hand, donned a pair of headphones, and within minutes was guided through a meditation course with audio input by Drs. Andrew Weill and Dean Ornish.  I learned breathing exercises using beautiful animations.  I clicked on a graph that showed that I had indeed lowered my heart rate.

I left the center feeling rather blissed out with new-found skills and assurance that I could return at any time to learn more.

Text provided by Impact100 member Pat Meier-Johnson
Photo by Russ Johnson

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