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SEA Currents

Newsletter of the NN/LM Southeastern/Atlantic Region

Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

Inspiring People in our Region: Samuel Toba - Co-founder, Military Partners and Families Coalition (MPFC)

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012


“Do it! Be patient as it takes time to build an effective outreach and volunteer group. But you will feel good that you have made a positive difference.” 

 Samuel Toba
Co-Founder, Military Partners and Families Coalition (MPFC)
Washington, DC

What is your position? 

I am a co-founder of Military Partners and Families Coalition (MPFC), a non-profit, non-partisan organization founded by partners of active duty military service members. MPFC’s mission is to provide support, advocacy, education and outreach for partners and children of LGBT service members – including families of service members on active duty, in the reserves, national guard, and veterans.

Is there something in your own personal story that led you to do the work you do?

I am the spouse of an active duty Navy service member. My spouse has served two deployments and has been in the military for over ten years. I feel privileged to support our service members and their contribution to our country. However, gay and lesbian spouses are denied this opportunity on many fronts.

During the holiday season last year, I volunteered to join other military spouses in putting up holiday decorations on base in preparation for a command holiday celebration. It was a cold and wet night; the rain was starting to turn into snow. Puddles were beginning to form wet slush. I arrived at the base security gate, but was denied entry because as a gay spouse, I do not have a base access card.

In that freezing rain, I gained a better understanding that despite the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, gay and lesbian families of service members are still denied many services available to heterosexual families, which are taken for granted; from base access, to help with moving, and health care. It is my goal that no families should be out in the cold and be denied the ability to support their loved ones in the military. By getting involved, I hope my work with MPFC and other military family organizations will make a positive difference.

What do you love most about your work?

I get to hear heartwarming stories from fellow military families on how MPFC has made a difference for them. Here is an example of an email that I will always cherish “I always thought I was so alone in the world being a woman married to a woman in the Army and all of the struggles that came with it. The idea that there are others out there like me was so heartwarming.” It makes me feel good that I can be part of a community that cares, as well as help create a welcoming military environment for all service members and their families.

What is the biggest challenge in what you do?

I am trained as a drug-discovery scientist, so starting a non-profit is a steep learning curve, all while keeping a full-time day job.

What has been the most fulfilling part of your work in terms of getting health information out to your community?

The gay and lesbian families of service members face the same issues as their straight counterparts. These partners and families are dealing with their service members returning as wounded warriors, struggling with PTSD, deployment stresses, family re-integration, and a range of other mental health family issues.

The children raised in partnered households are faced with the same separation issues and emotional anxiety that all military children face when a parent deploys, but without access to ‘family support’ from the military. MPFC works to make sure that military families are aware of the vast and reliable health resources available from NLM. A strong military starts with a strong family. It is very fulfilling to me to do my part to support my country by supporting all military families.

What do you see as the biggest health concerns in the community you serve?

Many LGBT military families have been ‘shaped’ to hide their families for decades because of fear of their loved one being kicked out of the service under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. While the law has been repealed, many LGBT military families remain hidden and have a lack of health and mental-health access. Until the Defense of Marriage Act is repealed, LGBT military partners and families will continue to be denied health and mental-health care available to military families.

How did you first come to know NN/LM SE/A?

A few year ago, one of the NN/LM SE/A staff approached our MPFC booth during Pride Festival in Washington, DC. This was before Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed. Having become accustomed to being denied access to health care, we were very happy to learn that NN/LM SE/A recognizes the challenges of reaching underserved communities.  We were thrilled to be given the opportunity to do outreach to the ‘hidden’ LGBT military families. Thank you NN/LM SE/A for your leadership and outreach to the community.

In what ways has NN/LM SE/A been of help to you?

Through my involvement, I have gained a much better appreciation of the range of services and challenged faced by NN/LM SE/A in bringing health information to the community and health professionals. I feel that I have benefited from the NN/LM SE/A staff who are always there ready to lend a helping hand (or advise) when needed.

Can you share a success story about the impact of health outreach in your community?

Under an award received from NN/LM SE/A, MPFC conducted a community study to assess the health and mental health needs of the LGBT military service members and families. In giving voice to the feelings of the respondents, the survey begins to identify the impact on LGBT military families of being denied everything from health insurance, to visiting a loved one in the military hospital, to receiving spousal benefits for fallen service members in combat.

This report on mental and physical health of LGBT service members and their partners and families is just the beginning of our efforts. From here, MPFC intends to team up with other like-minded organizations both within and outside the military to continue our work. MPFC study results will be applied to a large military-wide study. Building on MPFC results, the Naval Center for Combat & Operational Stress Control (NCCOSC) along-side researchers from Palo Alto University plan to conduct a study to assess sexual minority stress and changes in perceived stigma post Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

What advice would you give others who are interested in doing health outreach work in their communities?

Do it! Be patient as it takes time to build an effective outreach and volunteer group. But you will feel good that you have made a positive difference.  :)
If you would like to share your story or suggest another person for our “Inspiring People” feature, please email Nancy Patterson:

Hospital Librarian Toolkit Launched

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

By David Midyette, Outreach and Communications Coordinator, NN/LM, SE/A Region

Back in January 2010, hospital librarians from the region, SE/A staff, and experts from around the U.S. converged on Baltimore for a Hospital Librarian Summit. The goal was to look at the future of hospital libraries and librarians, with an eye towards how the SE/A could best support them as they face unprecedented challenges. There were many wonderful discussions about multiple aspects of hospital librarianship, and a good deal was accomplished in a very brief time.

One of the major outcomes of the summit was a desire to create an updated, dynamic, and useful Hospital Librarian Toolkit. After a long brainstorming session, the various ideas were consolidated into main topics. Participants voted for the topics they felt were most important, and a ranked list was produced. From that list and utilizing SE/A expertise, a plan was devised, which has now come to fruition:

Resources for Hospital Librarians

In this LibGuide, we have pulled together resources that address the summit topics as well as other areas that have become increasingly important over the past two years. This guide is intended to be both dynamic and collaborative. The world of hospital librarianship is changing rapidly, so this guide will be updated regularly as issues arise. Collaboration is key and input from the region is vital. If you have questions, concerns, additions, deletions, suggestions, or any other ideas on keeping this guide current and vital, please let us know.

We thank everyone who has contributed to this guide and look forward to supporting hospital libraries and librarians in this ever-changing world.

Please contact David Midyette ( P.J. Grier ( or Sheila Snow-Croft ( with your suggestions and comments.

Diagnostic Error: A Multidisciplinary Exploration - November 15, 2012

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Instructors: Elaine Alligood, Mark Graber, Barb Jones, Linda Williams and Lorri Zipperer

Date:  Thursday, November 15, 2012

Registration and pre-session coffee: 8:30 am; Session time: 9:00 am-4:00 pm

Diagnostic error, a major factor in patient harm also increases medical costs ( A free, interactive workshop for medical decision makers and information professionals is being held on November 15th focusing on how multidisciplinary teams can contribute to the reduction of diagnostic error.   This innovative session will highlight evidence-based processes and the collaborative roles of clinicians and their librarians/ informationists as they work together to reduce factors contributing to diagnostic error. This class is set for November 15, 2012 in Room LL05 at the Health Sciences and Human Services Library, University of Maryland Baltimore. Class time is from 9-4, with a break for lunch on your own.

Session content will cover:

  • Team-oriented approaches to understanding the role of information and evidence in the diagnostic process.
  • Case analysis and discussion of bias.
  • Partnering of librarians/informationists with clinical staff to strategize improvements
  • Application of failure analysis techniques to explore system and process improvement.
  • Design of evidence sharing innovations to reduce diagnostic error.
  • Strategies for implementation of proposed projects.

Multidisciplinary teams from organizations are encouraged to attend.  MLA CE credits will be provided.

Register for this class at

Patient Advocacy

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

By Terri Ottosen, Consumer Health Coordinator, NN/LM, SE/A Region

One of the most exciting areas of consumer health is emerging as a lay specialization in health care. This area covers patient education and navigation through the health care system and patient advocacy. There are many types of patient advocates and many routes to becoming an advocate. The education, skills and experience required are very similar to health sciences librarians. Right now, there is no formal certification recognized for patient advocates, but there are educational programs including certificate programs and continuing education. An individual patient advocate usually acts as a liaison between a patient and their health care provider. This role is frequently assumed by nurses and social workers, but increasingly, advocates are people that have had a health care experience that now leads them to the career of patient advocate. Some have become advocates for family members or even themselves after experiencing a life-threatening or serious illness. Their frustration and difficulties encountered with the field of medicine lead to their interest in helping others overcome barriers in obtaining health care.

Two individuals come to mind who have attained national recognition for their work in patient advocacy: E-Patient Dave and Regina Holliday. Both spoke at the MLA E-Patient Symposium in Washington, DC in 2010. E-Patient Dave, also known as Dave deBronkart, was diagnosed in 2007 with Stage IV renal cell carcinoma and his median survival time at diagnosis was just 24 weeks. Prior to his illness, he was already a speaker and writer, but after he beat his disease, he actively began to advocate for patients to be engaged in their health care, empowering patients to be an active member of their health care team. Today he is an accomplished speaker and activist. You can learn more about him and find links to his blog entries for at his website:

Regina Holliday regularly and passionately advocates the importance of open data access for patients and access to medical records. She came to her role after her husband’s illness and death, in which it was a struggle to get appropriate care during “11 weeks of continuous hospitalization at 5 facilities.” ( She is an artist, speaker and author and speaks powerfully about her experience trying to obtain access to her husband’s medical records. As her blog mentions, “her work is a visual reminder of the patient in the center of any policy debate and technical application.” You can find much more information about her and see her artwork at her blog.

As someone passionate about consumer health and interested in patient empowerment, I have been attending classes online in the patient advocacy certificate program through the University of Miami. I am learning a lot and am struck by the similarities and parallels between patient advocate work and our work as health information professionals. We are all patient advocates in some ways. We work with consumers, librarians, and health professionals in an effort to connect people with the information they need, whether it is for direct patient care or to help empower people to be active, engaged participants in their own health care.

As I head into the home stretch of the program, I am looking for ways to incorporate what I have learned into future classes and presentations. I am also eager to see what new and exciting ways consumer health and the patient advocacy movement will continue to evolve as we enter the most patient-centric time in health care in history. To read more about the movement, here are several organizations and links:

Patient Advocate Foundation:

National Patient Advocate Foundation:

AdvoConnection Blog:

For more information, please contact Terri Ottosen at


Share Your Success: Lisa Travis Shares Her Role

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Here is the first of our Share Your Success!  submissions for Medical Library Month.  In this article, Lisa Travis writes of her experience stepping outside of the traditional roles of a medical librarian.

I have been the Medical Librarian for Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, TN, since 2007. From 2007-2009, I served the new osteopathic medical school and the schools of nursing and allied health. I currently serve as the sole librarian for the physician assistant and osteopathic medicine programs within the DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine. Since my office is in the medical school, I have been able to develop strong relationships with the faculty and students. A couple of nontraditional roles have become the norm with my job, and I love them. Here is a sampling of some of the ways that I serve my users.

I am invited to faculty candidate presentations and attend them to introduce myself and see if the candidates have any questions about the library. I drop by meetings and events of student clubs to socialize and make sure the club officers and members are aware of resources that are useful for the specialty of interest. When faculty members are hired, they are required to meet with me for one-on-one training in their offices for as long as they like; my record for one of these sessions is over 2 ½ hours (more on this later).

Since I like to edit, faculty provide grant proposals and other documents for me to review; I see it as a way to learn about their projects while doing something I enjoy. My love of editing has also resulted in my chipping in to review medical students’ personal statements and CVs for their residency applications. For my inaugural class of 2011, I edited approximately 25 of each; that number doubled with the class of 2012. So far I have edited nearly as many documents for the class of 2013 as I did for the class of 2012, and there will be many more to come since we are in the midst of applications season.

My biggest project that expands the realm of traditional librarian roles is one that I have worked on for over ten years. During my time at two different jobs over the years, I have compiled an annotated collection of links to games, simulations, tutorials, quizzes, and other interactive websites for anatomy, ECGs, surgery, and other topics. I began collecting the links so that I could learn about medical terminology and such while finding useful tools that could be used for teaching and self-study. Presenting the links during my job interview helped me land my current position. Over the years, students and faculty have recommended additional links to add to the collection and have asked me to find interactive websites for particular topics.

The collection of annotated links is found in the Program Resources section of the medical library website at One example of a helpful resource in the collection, a game to learn ECGs, is Websites in the collection have been included in assignments to students and have also used during lectures. Students get a kick out of one professor’s tendency to purposely provide the wrong type of blood in one of the online games, which of course triggers a traumatic reaction in the patient.

The faculty training session that stretched to over two-and-a-half hours did so because he wanted to check some of the linked websites for accuracy while I watched. After doing so, he provided a note to add to one website’s annotation to more fully explain a tricky concept. I will never forget the enthusiastic students in my inaugural class of medical students who stopped me after my library lecture during medical school orientation to thank me for the collection of links, one noting that he’d never seen another library do something like it; that meant a lot to me since I was nervous about serving a medical school for the first time – and a new medical school to boot! Since there are so many links in the collection, users asked that the best ones be designated as such; each of these is labeled as a “Top Pick.” I plan to eventually develop a course on the links and submit it for MLA CE credit.

Last updated on Friday, 22 November, 2013

Funded by the National Library of Medicine under contract HHS-N-276-2011-00004-C with the Health Sciences and Human Services Library of the University of Maryland