CEO’s book promotes health literacy

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! LA HABRA – As a registered nurse, Gloria Mayer had always suspected that many of her patients did not understand the educational material they were given. It was not due to the complicated medical language but because many were functionally illiterate. But as president and CEO of the La Habra-based Institute for Healthcare Advancement, Mayer was in a position to do something about it. Founded in 1997 by the now-defunct Friendly Hills Healthcare Network, the institute’s mission is to find ways to improve health-care delivery and educate consumers. After research showed that 50million Americans cannot read above a fifth-grade level, Mayer and another R.N., Ann Kuklierus, wrote “What To Do When Your Child Gets Sick.” The book, published by the institute, covers basic health-care, using language that someone with a third- to fifth-grade reading level can understand. “Nearly one in two adults can’t read at an adult level,” Mayer said. “I always knew people didn’t understand the patient education material they get and that there was a literacy problem. “For example, when someone is given directions to not eat anything before a procedure, often they’ve eaten when they come to see the doctor. The doctors get mad and tell them they can’t do the test that day. But the patient won’t say they can’t read, because it’s embarrassing.” So far, “What To Do When Your Child Gets Sick” has sold more than 1.1 million copies since its publication in 2000. The book is now included in the “Kit for New Parents,” a pamphlet all parents of newborns in the Head Start program receive in California. Four other books in the “What To Do” series have also been written, covering teen, senior and dental health, as well as pregnancy. As health-care costs have risen, more people are joining the ranks of the uninsured, leaving many to use emergency rooms for their routine health care, according to Mayer. “Eighteen of the 58 counties in California are already on board with this book,” said Warren Hand, marketer for the institute’s publications. “If we can reduce unwarranted use of emergency rooms, that’s a positive step.” Mayer and a lecturer from UCLA conducted a pilot study of Head Start parents who received the book. In a 6-month follow-up, parents reported a 48 percent reduction in emergency room visits and a 37.5 percent reduction in clinic visits. “Some people say the books dumb \ down or that they make it too simple,” Mayer said. “I say you can never make it too simple. These books are in no way insulting.” Among the programs and services run by the institute is a clinic at Los Lomas Elementary School in La Habra called the Friends of Children Health Center. It provides health care and dental care for 13,000 uninsured or underinsured low-income patients every year, said Mayer. The institute also provides tools, strategies and clinical solutions to health-care workers, physicians, pharmacists and social workers through its annual Health Literacy Conference, and also provides a range of social services to communities. “This work gives me meaning by giving me a chance to give back to the community,” Mayer said. “I see families who are very vulnerable. But it’s not them, it’s their circumstances. It’s not their fault. This is very rewarding work because I can help those people.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029last_img

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