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Award Report: HealthStart!–Touro-Harlem Medical Library

Health Start! is an integrated program that unites in partnership the Touro-Harlem Medical Library, the Touro College of Pharmacy (a program served by the library), Project Aspire (a not-for-profit public health initiative of the Children’s Health Education Foundation at Touro College), and P.S. 197 in New York City.  It seeks to improve pharmaceutical health literacy and general health literacy in pre and early readers (generally children between the ages of 4 and 7) by developing a sustainable and reproducible program to educate children in the target group and their parents.

The planning phases of the project involved creating medication safety/health literacy curricula and lessons plans; developing teaching and learning tools that supported the curricula, including an animated video; providing training for the teachers at P.S. 197, who would use these tools in the classroom; and conducting a pre-assessment of K-2 students from P.S. 197 to gauge their knowledge of pharmaceutical safety and health information literacy.

The lessons were delivered to students at P.S. 197 in March 2010, followed by a post-assessment instrument.  As part of the continuing education aspect of this project, and to stay in touch with the Harlem community, the “PharmInfo” HealthStart! e-mail information line was established and is in use.  A reminder gateway for parents and the community was developed in the form of a refrigerator magnet whiteboard that includes emergency numbers for Poison Control,   and the URLs for MedLine Plus and other trustworthy sites.

A HealthStart! outreach event was planned for parents and the community, but has been rescheduled for a future date due to poor publicity and low attendance for the initial event.  The feedback received thus far has been very positive, as evidenced by teachers’ comments and by the students’ ability to recite from memory the lyrics from the video soundtrack.  The creation of educational materials and media resulted in successful products that can be used in similar settings.

Shelly Warwick
Touro-Harlem Medical Library

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