The New York Medical College conference entitled, “Health Literacy: Tools for Improving Health Communications,” was held on May 30, 2007 with 194 attendees from a wide array of community or health-related advocacy organizations, hospitals, local health departments, public libraries, and/or academic institutions.
The conference was co-sponsored by the New York Medical College (NYMC) Health Sciences Library (HSL) and School of Public Health (SPH) along with the Northern Metropolitan Hospital Association (NorMet). It was jointly funded by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) and the New York State Department of Health. The conference goal was to provide health professionals and hospital staff with an educational opportunity to develop awareness of health literacy issues and improve communication skills with individuals throughout the Hudson Valley Region of New York. In fact, the relevant issues and communication skills needed are basic to all health professionals. NN/LM network members, regional health professionals, and individuals from community agencies were encouraged to attend.
The keynote speakers were widely acknowledged experts on health literacy issues: Rima E. Rudd, MSPH, ScD, Harvard School of Public Health and Shelby Dunster, Associate Director, Department of Standards, The Joint Commission. Rima Rudd has served on the Institute of Medicine’s expert panel on health literacy. Shelby Dunster is responsible for developing and promoting the new cultural and health literacy standards for The Joint Commission. The complete program and agenda are available on the web site: http://library.nymc.edu/PHInformatics/index.cfm.
One outcome was the creation of a health literacy tool kit, which was soon followed by a virtual version. The conference tool kit, with new links added as needed, is available at: http://library.nymc.edu/PHInformatics/hltoolkit.cfm. When the so-called “dancing nurses” video shown by one of the speakers was requested more than 14 times, the link was immediately added to the site: http://www.ahrq.gov/QuestionsAreTheAnswer//. As of July 19, over 1,000 hits have been made to the conference web pages.
All NN/LM members, and others, are encouraged to make use of the conference tool kit. Feedback is welcome and should be sent to Diana Cunningham (Diana_cunningham@nymc.edu). The conference planners are working to continue the dynamic collaborations begun with this event. View photos at: http://library.nymc.edu/PHInformatics/images/hlcphotos/index.htm
NYMC Health Literacy Conference Participants (left to right): Frank Baker, Penny Liberatos, Diana Cunningham, Amy Ansehl, Padmini Murthy, Sabrina Kurtz-Rossi. Not pictured: Shelby Dunster, Rima Rudd, and Sarah Kowalski