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Rx for Better Health: Promoting Health Literacy for The District

TEAM MEMBERS: L. Esther Aranda, Nikhil Baviskar, Christian Brewer, Jessica Czapnik, Lindsay Ford, Amy Fong, Nasim G. Memon, Casey Nelson, Xochitl Pablos-Velez, Elizabeth Prevou. COACHES: Angie Hinzey, Sandy Hoar, Donna Javellana, Karyn Pomerantz, Scott Schroth

Our Learning Community included graduate students in Health Services Administration, Physician Assistant, Public Health, Master of Science programs. We focused on tackling the issue of adult health literacy and worked with diverse community partners, each with unique health literacy needs. Our community partners included: • Emery House, a men’s transitional housing program • Mary’s Center, a health and social service organization serving predominately Latino communities • Whitman Walker Health, an HIV/AIDS care and social service agency • Bread for the City, a health and social service organization serving homeless, vulnerable and working poor .

From left to right: Sandy, Christian, Esther, Nasim, Jessica, Amy, Karyn. From left to right above: Casey, Lindsey, Elizabeth, Xochitl

We facilitated health literacy workshops on a variety of topics: • Clinical health literacy: how to understand prescriptions and over-the-counter medication, when to visit the ER, what a medical home means • Health information: how to search for and evaluate health information, what are credible sources of health information, using the internet for health topics, and how to apply health information to the health problem • Everyday health literacy: interpreting health risks, prevention behaviors, following health recommendations, and identifying and understanding social factors that impact health

Hop on for a ride! Our starter project: What we did and how we did it! We communicated via email chains, which were very effective, to find a suitable time to meet. During our meeting, we would lay out dates, sites, and the module to be presented.

One of the group members would take the lead on the module and start by contacting our site advisor and confirming dates.

Two weeks prior to presenting, our module content was revised and tailored to the specific site. We would… • Check for language barriers • Make sure that information presented was relevant • Pick the sections we felt most confident on to present • Include information suggested by our coaches • Allow our creativities and talents to guide us in creating ice-breakers and group dynamic activities

Days/weeks before presenting, we practiced the module to check for flow, give a moment to share constructive criticism, and make sure our timing was reasonable. If not, we would rearrange sections so that what we felt was most important got covered.

The Health Literacy ISCOPES team presented modules on computer health literacy, ER vs. medical home, and prescribed medicine label guidance at Emery House, Mary’s Center, Whitman Walker Health and Bread for The City.



 The community learned a bit more about general health literacy, but more importantly, they were able to take this information and apply it in their lives, as well as the lives of their family and friends.  More sites and individuals are aware of available community resources. By working with multiple sites, we were also able to direct people from one service provider to another, which they may not have been aware.  One memorable experience for our teammates was seeing the fantastic impact of the joy in a HIV+ man’s face when he told us that this was the first time he had a chance to sit down and actually learn how to do a medical search on the Internet on a computer. This one individual and isolated impact was very meaningful and brought smiles to our faces.  The women at Mary's Center learned a few new things about community, wellness and self-love. And so did I!  Through our health literacy modules, our participants have picked up decision-making tools to be smarter when interfacing with health professionals and taking care of themselves and family. Above: Nikhil Baviskar and Amy Fong presenting the pharmacy health literacy module at Emery House.

Below: Christian Brewer teaching massage and relaxation techniques for women at Mary’s Center.

Above: Health Literacy Team, staff of Mary’s Center, and participants of the computer health literacy module.

Above: Sandy Hoar teaching participants at Mary’s Center how to juggle.

How important it is to take a few minutes to do something (as easy as closing one's eyes and taking deep breaths) to reduce stress.

That having our coaches attend workshops helps tremendously because they can provide guidance and answers on the spot.

WE LEARNED…. The strength of listening. When given the opportunity to speak, people have amazing stories to tell.

To support our colleagues in their service, as well as ask for help when I need it, are critical lessons that I will carry with me into clinical practice.

That participants are sophisticated and engaged! They appreciate the group bringing in creative activities, such as icebreakers and physical activities.

That working with people from different backgrounds, specialties and modalities of study means that your team's approach to the community will be dynamic, unique and interesting!

That we are all special and unique individuals no matter who we are: the HIV+ patients, the seniors, the indigent, the forgotten.

Thanks to Donna Javellana, Sandy Hoar, Karyn Pomerantz and Dr. Scott Schroth for all their dedication and assistance to our group! They were always available and greatly assisted in accomplishing our work! We appreciate all their support, guidance, and encouraging words. A big thank you to all the other groups who spent the year reaching out and building ties in the community— their delight in service was inspiring! We appreciated how much work our team members contributed to the projects in a very thoughtful, serious way. It was a pleasure working together throughout the year! Finally, we are so appreciative to our participants and community partners!

FY13 Adult Health Literacy Poster  
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