IHA: Gloria Mayer and Michael Villaire

Health Literacy Heroes for March 2013 are Gloria Mayer (President and  CEO) and Michael Villaire (Chief Operating Officer) of IHA (Institute of Healthcare Advancement). For a dozen years, Gloria and Michael have organized, led, and otherwise made possible IHA’s annual health literacy conference. From my perspective as an attendee and session speaker, this conference offers a hub of learning not only for newcomers but also long-time practitioners, researchers, and leaders. Even more, IHA’s annual conference provides a welcome gathering place for health literacy champions worldwide. Thanks for all you have done and continue to do. Individually and collectively, you indeed are Health Literacy Heroes! Here’s a link to learn more about IHA and its annual health literacy conference.

Archie Willard

Archie Willard is February’s Health Literacy Hero. Archie is an ardent, articulate health literacy advocate. For decades, he has taught so many of us about why health literacy matters to those we care for and care about. Archie’s actions include leading health literacy conferences, encouraging patients and providers to work together, participating on patient safety panels, and reviewing patient education materials. What makes Archie’s work even more meaningful is that he learned to read at age 54, soon after being diagnosed with severe dyslexia. You can hear Archie talk about some of his health literacy experiences in this Health Literacy Out Loud podcast.

Mary Gynn

Mary Gynn, RN is April’s Health Literacy Hero. Mary emailed me about how she is working to make health information more understandable. Here’s just part of her story. After many years working in hospitals, Mary realized that patients do not always understand what clinicians are saying. So Mary decided to take action, starting with earning an MPH degree in worldwide public and community health. Since then, Mary’s health literacy efforts have included introducing nursing colleagues to health literacy, leading community health programs for the public, writing about health literacy for professional and peer-reviewed publications, and working with others to plan a statewide health literacy conference. Thanks Mary, you indeed are a Health Literacy Hero! Learn more about Mary Gynn’s work at http://www.teachingforhealth.com

Wake Health Literacy Coalition

The Health Literacy Hero Award for May goes to North Carolina’s Wake Health Literacy Coalition. Its mission is to improve health literacy throughout Wake County. Volunteer members include clinicians, public health specialists, health educators and librarians – all who help educate professionals and the public about ways to clearly communicate about health. The Wake Health Literacy Coalition hosts an annual Health Literacy Month event. In 2012, the keynote speaker was Mayor Nancy McFarlane who presented the Raleigh City “Health Literacy Awareness Month Proclamation.” Linda Rohret is a co-founder of the Wake Health Literacy Coalition and serves as its chair.

HELP (Health Education Library for People)

The Health Literacy Hero for June 2013 is HELP (Health Education Library for People) based in Mumbai, India. Founded as a modest-sized patient education resource center in 1997 by Drs. Aniruddha and Anjali Malpani, HELP is now India’s largest patient education center–housing thousands of books, pamphlets, health care magazines, and audiovisuals on all aspects of health and disease. HELP offers free public seminars in Mumbai nearly every day. HELP also provides an online resource center where users worldwide can ask health questions and search its vast medical knowledge base. Anjoo Chandiramani and her staff of librarians maintain the HELP collection. Here’s the link, http://www.healthlibrary.com

Health Information Translations

The Health Literacy Hero award for July goes to Health Information Translations—an online resource providing plain language health education resources for health care professionals working with limited English proficient populations. This website is a collaboration of health education specialists from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Mount Carmel Health System, OhioHealth, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Their website https://www.healthinfotranslations.org gives free access to 3,000+ documents written in up to 18 languages. First page of each document is English, followed by a translated page. Resources are the majority of the National Library of Medicine Medline Plus Multiple Language inventory. The Joint Commission recommends this site as a resource for translated patient education materials. Health Information Translations is looking for funding to sustain and grow this valuable resource. Contact Diane Moyer, MS, RN, to share ideas and learn more.

MHQP (Massachusetts Health Quality Partners)

The Health Literacy Hero for August is MHQP (Massachusetts Health Quality Partners). MHQP is a non-profit, broad-based coalition that not only provides clinicians with reliable information about quality of care but also communicates this data to the public in ways they can access, use, and understand.

MHQP is a long-time health literacy champion. I know this for a fact as I have worked with them for years to create many of its user-friendly print and online materials. Learn more about MHQP at www.mhqp.org.

Sinai Urban Health Institute Asthma Team

The Health Literacy Hero award for September goes to the Sinai Urban Health Institute Asthma Team. Operating under a program called “Helping Children Breathe and Thrive” within Chicago Housing Authority developments, this team has helped more than 180 clients with asthma who live in underserved communities. The asthma team’s health educators meet clients in their homes—teaching not only how to use medications but also assessing homes for adverse asthma-related environmental concerns such as mold. Health literacy is key throughout this process. Kim Artis is one of the team’s health educators. She is justifiably proud of this program, saying, “We have made great strides in keeping our clients well informed and having the ability to now advocate for themselves because they now understand.” To learn more go to http://www.suhichicago.org/research-evaluation/controlling-pediatric-asthma-through-collaboration-and-education

Partnership and Collaboration

For October 2013, I am honoring the concept of partnership and collaboration as a Health Literacy Hero. I knew from the start of this initiative that the best way to raise health literacy awareness was by doing so together. How right I was. And still am. Since 1999, healthcare providers, patients, family members, caregivers, teachers, students, librarians, public health agencies, religious organizations, community agencies, businesses, broadcasters, government groups, elected leaders, the public, and so many others have worked in partnership to collectively raise awareness about the importance of understandable health information. Because of our combined efforts, thousands of people worldwide now know about health literacy and why it matters. And an increasing number are communicating health messages more clearly. Collaboration is key to this success. As I often say, “Together we can, and do, make a big difference.” Thanks for all you do. You indeed are Health Literacy Heroes!