Award Report – Senior Access to Health Information Program
Over the summer and fall of 2009, the Hospital for Special Surgery’s (HSS) Library teamed up with the Greenberg Academy for Successful Aging (GASA) (a collaborative program between the HSS Public and Patient Education Department and New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s Irving Sherwood Wright Center for the Aging) program to use funding from the NNLM Mid Atlantic region to achieve 2 program goals:
- We implemented a training series, for seniors that was age and information appropriate.
- We integrated health information resources from NLM, NIH, and other credible health information sources into GASA community outreach and health education programming.
The trainings entitled were held over 8 weeks at the Carver Senior Center/ Casita Maria in East Harlem. 20 students, all of whom were clients of the center of the center were enrolled.
The classes began with instruction on how to set up an e-mail address and get on the Internet. Students then learned to surf the net to find disease and drug information in English and in Spanish. They were introduced to websites where they could check doctors’ credentials, compare hospitals by quality and procedure volume, and even find the neighborhood pharmacy that charges the lowest price for specific prescription drugs. Throughout the course they developed the skills to determine if a health website is up to date, reliable, and free from biased opinions. Most importantly, students learned that sharing the health information found online with their doctor is a great way to begin a dialog and start a conversation that will lead to a stronger patient/provider partnership.
We modeled our program off the course structure put forth by the National Institute on Aging in the NIH Senior Health toolkit, (http://nihseniorhealth.gov/toolkit/toolkit.html) We added a section on social networking, healthy computer use, (ergonomics, posture, etc.) and NOAH (New York Online Access to Health – http://www.noah-health.org/.) The trainings used the computers in their own center and we were able to enlisted volunteers from the center to assist participants during the hands on portion of the classes. There was one facilitator for every 4 or 5 students. We feel our successful was primarily due to these 3 factors: class structure, location and local resources, and the student to teacher ratio.
Along with the class, the initiative with the Greenberg Academy for Successful Aging programming led to nearly 600 hundred participants in the Greenberg Academy having been introduced to reliable online health information resources related to their area of interest.
All in all, the program exceeded our expectations and a warm relationship was nurtured between HSS staff and the Carver Center clients.
Report submitted by
Timothy Roberts, MLS, AHIP
Kim Barrett Memorial Library
Hospital for Special Surgery