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Seniors blog

The Health Pie
Monday, February 21, 2011 | Megan Rooney
As Health Literacy Missouri’s webmaster, I spend a lot of time behind a computer. But recently, I was lucky enough to get out of our Saint Louis office and travel through Missouri to learn about health literacy projects outside of our city. I brought back lots of stories.

Over coffee at a rural health clinic one morning, I heard a story about an athlete in a nearby hospital. A nurse walked in, told her that she had a torn ACL (which is an injury that can end an athlete’s career), and walked out. The patient was devastated. How severe is the injury? Will I play my sport again? No one took the time to answer her questions.

On a different day, at an evening community meeting, one elderly woman told me that rain and snow had leaked through the roof of her home. Her house was wet and cold, and she worried about the cost of fixing her roof (a helpful neighbor found that the holes came from bullets fired randomly in her inner-city neighborhood). While the situation doesn’t jump out as being “health literacy” related, I could see how stressful it was for her (not to mention the stress of living in an unsafe neighborhood). And we know that stress can impact health.

This woman’s situation underscores the fact that our health does not exist in a vacuum. Health literacy is one piece of the health pie. Helping to stabilize her living conditions and build social support in her neighborhood, or encouraging the athlete to ask questions and expect answers can translate to improved health.

In all of my conversations, no one mentioned ‘health literacy.’ We here in the office spend so much time reading about health literacy—and I have all of the statistics memorized and can spout off definitions. But some things you can’t learn from press releases and news reports. My trip highlighted how everyday people struggle to understand health, but also how they help each other cope. It was eye-opening. And it’s why I’m excited to come to work each day.

Megan Rooney is an associate at Health Literacy Missouri, based in St. Louis, but with partners throughout the state of Missouri. Megan became interested in health literacy while working on community health projects throughout St. Louis and as an interventionist with children with Autism. She develops web content and health communication materials for Health Literacy Missouri.

Tags   health literacy, communication, phr

About This Blog

Welcome to the Caregiver’s PHR blog – your connection to health information management professionals and other caregivers managing the healthcare of a loved one. Caregivers can be more prepared for the unpredictable simply by keeping a record of their loved one’s personal health information to present to a healthcare provider when needed. As a caregiver, you can often become overwhelmed with the emotional and physical responsibilities involved in this commitment. Just tracking medications and doctors’ visits can seem nearly impossible at times. A personal health record can help ease your mind. We hope you will visit this blog often to interact with experts in the field to seek advice and tips for best practices in creating and maintaining your loved one’s personal health record and the most effective ways to use that information to play a more active role in their healthcare and simplify your life.

Blog Contributors

Marsha Dolan, Valerie Watzlaf, Cindy Boester, Heidi Shaffer, Julie Wolter, Margaret Hennings, Colleen Goethals, Vera Rulon, Leah Grebner, Robert Caban, Mynilma Olivera-Vazquez, Amanda Bushey, Margie Kelly, Donna DuLong, Sarah Dietze, Valisha McFarlane, Maria Kovell, Ted Eytan, Leann Reynolds, Laura Heuer, Kristin Stewart, Derek Allen, Chris Matthies, Margo Corbett, Craig Newmark, Sarah Buelterman, Skyler Tanner, Aniruddha Malpani, Joan Malling, Marilyn McFarlane, Megan Rooney, Patrick Rhone, Dr. Carrie Nelson, Maria Bouselli, Erin Jordan


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