Diabetes Medication

Learning with Grillo

You know how some people with too much ego are always googling their name. People like my friend John Smith can’t google himself, because there are so many John Smiths. The spelling of my name, however, is unusual enough that I don’t have that problem. But I haven’t done that for years, not because I don’t have too much ego, but because my name shows up with so many of my magazine and website articles.

The other day instead of googling myself, I MEDLINEd myself. When I ran that search, I found something that I wrote a couple of years ago for The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on “Glycemic load values” (before I changed my first name from Rick to David). But in addition, I was surprised to see my website mentioned in a 2004 abstract from an obscure publication, the International Journal of Medical Informatics.

This abstract evaluated the usability, content, and reliability of diabetes websites for both patients and their physicians. Since I was just then working on a revision of the “Top Websites”, I knew that I had to get the full text of the article.

But how? I followed the strategy outlined in the MEDLINE blog entry by writing and then calling a couple of the authors of the article. A week passed and no one responded.

Then I asked the research librarian at my local library in Boulder, Colorado, to try to get the article. No luck.

But she suggested that I call the Grillo Center at (303) 441-4144 or email them at grillo_center@boulder.lib.co.us. I didn’t know what she was talking about, but called anyway.

It turns out that the Grillo Health Care Information Center is located right in the Boulder Public Library. Within an hour the volunteer who answered the phone emailed me the article that I had been seeking.

That’s how I learned what a great resource that this is for anyone with diabetes and anyone else seeking health information. It provides research on health care questions. It’s free.

The Grillo Center began with Virgil Grillo’s search for medical information when he was diagnosed with cancer. A professor at the University of Colorado, Dr. Grillo took responsibility for his own health by seeking out the best medical information on his illness. This is just what people with diabetes have to do too.

And you don’t have to be here in Boulder to use the services of the Grillo Center. It has helped people in Europe and as far away as Israel to find health information, says Carol Salter, one of the center’s two co-directors.

The Grillo Center is part of a national network of libraries of medicine. But it’s unique in a couple of ways.

“We do the research for patrons, if that’s what they choose,” Carol told me. “But if they want to, we can work with them. The other way in which the Grillo Center is unique is that we are partners with the Boulder Public Library, the Boulder Community Hospital, and several clinics.”

Grillo Center volunteers don’t express a point of view and don’t give any medical advice. “It’s up to the patrons,” Carol says. “It’s a resource for them.”

This is just the way that we should be able to inform ourselves about diabetes and other health problems that we have. In fact, I think so highly of what the Grillo Center is doing that I told Carol that I want to be one of its volunteers. So when you call, don’t be surprised if I answer.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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  • Reply Flower Hund October 30, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Last summer I attended a presentation about the Grillow Health Care Information Center. At the end I talked to one of the preserters and told him I was a retired reference librarian who had done a lot of searching and would like to volunteer (I still do a lot of searching on my PC). He was enthusiastic about my offer and asked that I get in contact when I was available for training. I now am !

    Please let me help out. Most of my searching has been in business, law, economics but I know the protocols, how to evaluate sources and think I’m pretty good at finding information that’s how I made my living!). I enjoy it and would like to become involved helping others. Are you having any training sessions soon?

    Flower Hund
    720 562-8039

    • Reply David Mendosa October 30, 2009 at 7:42 pm

      Dear Flower,

      When I wrote this article four years ago, I was a Grillo volunteer as you aspire to be. But I’m not volunteering at present and was never involved in the Grillo management. If I were you, I would contact them directly. One of the ways of going about that would be to ask the reference department at the main branch of the Boulder Public Library, which is just a few feet from where the Grillo volunteers work. Or simply drop by and see the volunteer on duty at the time or call them. The Grillo web site says the number is 303-441-4144

      Best regards,


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