About 30 guests toasted the official opening of a user-friendly medical resource center June 8 with a reception at the center's newly furnished home inside the .
The PlaneTree Health Information Center, which provides visitors free access to medical texts, websites and other health resources, had a soft opening in October 2011, according to Patricia Lorenzo, library services manager for the Santa Clara County Library.
Now, the small second floor room that was once shuttered down a hallway is fully decked out thanks to a grant from the Cupertino Library Foundation, something Lorenzo and staff wanted to celebrate.
"It just looks beautiful," Lorenzo said. "It's totally ready to go now."
The center strives to provide health resources that those without a medical background can understand. Dedicated volunteers are on duty during the center's hours to point inquisitive visitors towards reliable, up-to-date information related to human health.
Cupertino Patch blogger Betsy Miller wrote about back in February.
"You don’t have to be a medical expert to use PlaneTree," Miller wrote. "If you aren’t sure how to research your topic, the PlaneTree staff and volunteers can help you. They are quite knowledgeable, and can point you to resources that you might not know about otherwise."
Volunteers go through a thorough training process provided by PlaneTree headquarters, Lorenzo said. Many are bilingual, making medicine accessible to visitors whose first language isn't English.
"We had three health talks in Mandarin in the spring through the center," Lorenzo said. "They were very well attended and we plan to hold lectures again as part of the PlaneTree services we provide. Of course, they'll be free."
Even for native English speakers, modern medicine can often sound like Greek to them.
"Doctors are so busy now that they don't have a lot of time to spend explaining things to their patients," Lorenzo said. "People come away from a medical appointment confused. When they leave PlaneTree, they are feeling much more confident and in control."
No library card is required to access the center's resources. Because materials must stay within the center, library staff has provided PlaneTree with a copier so folks can take information home with them.
Lorenzo also said that the library is expanding a page on its website for PlaneTree, dedicating a space so people can email their questions to the center's staff. Inquires can also be made by calling the center.
As word spreads about the library's health resources, Lorenzo said she hopes a wide swath of the community will utilize the center.
"It's definitely not just for adults or seniors," she said. "Parents who have a child with an illness or teens who have questions about health issues can come here. It's totally open to anybody."
The PlaneTree Health Information Center at the Cupertino Library is open Tuesday, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Local residents interested in volunteering at the center can call (408) 446-1677, ext. 3350. Medical inquiries can be made by phone by calling (408) 446-1677 ext. 3350