Wise mind, healthy body

By Ron Burtz

Custer Hospital President Mark Schmidt, left, and Dr. Joy Falkenburg stand by the book shelf that holds the small collection of books making up the hospital’s “Wise Mind Library.” “It’s just another extension of what we do,” said Schmidt of the library that is available to everyone in the community.

“It’s a tiny beginning to something we’ve wanted to create for a long time.” That’s how Dr. Joy Falkenburg describes the two shelves of books that make up the new Wise Mind Library in the lobby of Regional Health Custer Hospital. “For years we’ve been recommending books and self-help and we decided we’d give them access to it,” says Falkenburg.

The collection of books and audio recordings dealing with physical and mental health issues was purchased through a grant from Black Hills by Choice Southern Hills which is an arm of the  Black Hills Area Community Foundation. 

Falkenburg says the majority of the books have to do with mental health, dealing with subjects like marriage and relationships and death and dying. 

“Everybody is mortal,” said Falkenburg, “but how you choose to die and how you incorporate your knowledge in that is really important, and that gives people a sense of understanding.” 

Falkenburg says another major subject area covered in the library is anxiety, “because we’re seeing that as a major issue and anxiety is tied to illness as a major issue—insomnia, obesity.” 

Laughing that she can now add “librarian” to her list of job titles, like “doctor” and “mother,” Falkenburg says choosing the books involved asking some of her “reliable resources” what books they use. She says she hopes the library will help readers get an understanding of the deeper connection of mind, body and spirit together. 

“We don’t have a lot of space and can’t take all books,” said Falkenburg, “but if somebody thinks a book has really helped them, drop it off at the clinic and we’ll take a look at it.” 

Falkenburg says the library is open to all local residents and she hopes people will take advantage of it while waiting for appointments at the clinic or visiting patients in the hospital. The library will operate on the honor system and involves a simple check-out process of writing the name of the borrower and the book in a notebook on one of the shelves. 

The library is a part of a larger vision on the part of Falkenburg to create in Custer a wellness center “where people come to be well.” She says she would eventually like to have couches in the lobby area where people can read or listen to audio books on headphones using a provided audio device.