Mid-Winter Conference Report

The Partnership for Health Literacy in Arkansas hosted its second annual Mid-Winter Conference on Health Literacy on Thursday, January 24, 2013.  The purpose of the day-long conference was to promote collaboration between the health care system and the adult education community. The meeting was held at the Arkansas Department of Health with video-teleconferencing to locations around the state. Approximately 100 people attended the conference in person at the Health Department auditorium and another 20 through tele-conferencing.  We especially wish to thank Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the Arkansas Cancer Coalition for their sponsorships, which made the conference possible.

The conference began with Public Health Grand Rounds, which was presented by Winston Lawrence, Ed.D., who is Senior Advisor with the Literacy Assistance Center in New York City.  Dr. Lawrence topic was “Adult Ed and Health Care Working Together to Address Health Literacy Challenges”.  During his presentation, he described how the Literacy Assistance Center students had assisted local hospitals improve their patient communication through tours of health care facilities and health workshops that helped both students and providers better understand and address each other’s needs and expectations.

Greg Smith, M.A., who is the Executive Director of the Florida Literacy Coalition, followed Dr. Lawrence with a presentation on “Ways Literacy Councils Can Improve Health Literacy in Their Communities: The Florida Experience.”  Mr. Smith described ways in which the health care system has collaborated with literacy councils in Florida and other states to increase the health literacy skills of their students. The “Staying Healthy” ESL/literacy curriculum, which is being used by literacy councils in Arkansas, was developed by the Florida Literacy Coalition.

We also had the opportunity to learn about “Who’s Who in Arkansas” that could be our potential collaborators in achieving our goal to advance health literacy. This topic included short presentations on Adult Education & Literacy Councils in Arkansas by Marsha Taylor, Public Health in Arkansas by Jennifer Dillaha, Hometown Health Improvement by Andi Ridgway, and Libraries in Arkansas by Jon Goodell.  The purpose was to familiarize the conference participants with the adult education, the public health, and the library organizations of Arkansas, in order to encourage collaboration with each other.

In the afternoon, Dr. Lawrence gave a hands-on, interactive workshop on “Plain Language: How Adult Ed Can Help the Health Care System Improve Communications” and Mr. Smith provided an in-depth “Overview of the Florida Literacy Coalition’s Staying Healthy Curriculum”.

Copies of the conference presentations, as well as more information about the Partnership for Health Literacy in Arkansas and how to contact us, are available on the Partnership’s newly launched website: www.phla.net. The Partnership for Health Literacy in Arkansas is the official Health Literacy Section of the Arkansas Public Health Association.