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Hardin Library’s CTSA Community Engagement Outreach Project

By Chris Childs
Education & Outreach Librarian
Hardin Library for the Health Sciences
University of Iowa

The Hardin Library for the Health Sciences is collaborating with the University of Iowa’s Institute for Clinical and Translational Science’s Community Engagement Program to provide access to consumer health information for patients and their families at four Iowa community health centers based across the state in Davenport, Waterloo, Des Moines, and Sioux City. These four communities have been the focus of clinical, educational, and research outreach activities by The University of Iowa and have substantial University infrastructure already in place. These communities were also targeted based on the number of underserved populations in the area. The library will install computers in the clinics with their own custom made consumer health websites, and train both consumers and staff on accessing quality consumer health information. This project began with a meeting between Linda Walton, Hardin’s director, Jimmy Reyes, the cite coordinator for the Community Engagement Program and myself. Originally, Jimmy had hoped that a onetime instructional training session on consumer health resources could be provided to all of the clinic’s coordinators during an annual meeting, but after some discussion, that idea quickly evolved in the current project. Immediately after the meeting, Linda wrote up a grant proposal and applied for the GMR’s $40,000 Consumer Health Subcontract ( I then attended a meeting with Jimmy and all of the coordinators on campus and gave an introductory presentation on the nature of the project. Soon afterward, we learned that the we had been awarded the subtract and could begin. We were given an 18 month timeline, starting in June 1, 2009, and ending in November 30, 2010.

I began the project by visiting each clinic and performing a needs assessment to get information on the nature of the workstations and to find out more information about the patient demographics, multiple languages spoken and prominent health issues, I met with the clinic’s coordinator, IT department, providers and staff. The wealth of information provided extremely useful when the time came to order equipment and create the consumer health websites. During the visits, I also took time to talk with the coordinators and answer any questions regarding the project. The most typical questions were: 1) Who would be installing the equipment? 2) Who is responsible for setting up any security software and computer restrictions? 3) What about publicity? and 4) Will you take the equipment when the project is over? Once I assured them that I won’t be taking back the equipment and that they are responsible for all of the other issues raised, they were very excited about participating in this project. One surprising bit of information that I learned, was that the clinic in Waterloo would be undergoing renovations, and would not be able to participate until everything was completed.

The next step, involved ordering all of the equipment, promotional items (magnets, band aid dispensers and bookmarks) and creating the websites. One of the first websites I created was for the Siouxland Community Health Center ( This process of creating each individual website took several weeks, and involved lots of conference calls with Jimmy and the clinic coordinators. Even after the website were created, they would continue to undergo various changes in the months ahead.

After the workstations had been set up, I then traveled to the three clinics for provider training. Scheduling proved to be a challenge, as the goal was to do this when everyone was available. In Des Moines, I was fortunate to have a session set up an hour prior to the clinic’s opening, so that I was able to meet with all the providers and staff. This ended up being more of Q&A session, with a little MedlinePlus training thrown in. In Sioux City, I spoke during the all staff morning meeting and then did a MedlinePlus training session with over 20 providers and staff. For the rest of the day, I sat in the board room, as individuals come to me with suggestions of how to improve the website. In Davenport, I was not able to meet with any providers, so instead did a MedlinePlus training session with several nurses and managers. The clinic’s coordinator, assure me that he would train the providers individually. I’ve also been working the public relations person in each clinic to come up with ways to promote this project. Some of the ideas, range from having student volunteers work with patients, to having a link to the clinic’s Facebook page. When I last visited the clinics, I was very pleased to learn that each clinic quickly ran out of promotional items. I came with a solution and working with a colleague, created a bookmark, unique to each clinic that they can print off whenever needed.

The next step will be to provide training sessions to the clinic’s patients.

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