The Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative offers many programs that help better the lives of area residents. Recently, it offered a program called ‘Becoming Your Own Patient Advocate.’
This program was offered by Jessica Daly, B.S. Ed., MLS with the Clifford E. Graese Community Health Library. The program is a part of an initiative aimed to help families in need connect with information, resources and assistance. The partnership is with the University of South Florida and is called Libraries Build Communities. More information can be found at www.hcplc.org/librariesbuildcommunities.
Christopher Sturgeon with Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library said, “We are committed to serving everyone in our communities. Our strategic plan aptly communicates this: ‘We extend our reach and impact through partnerships to advance efforts toward an improved quality of life and community prosperity.’”
Daly said, “The main purpose of the presentation is to improve patient health literacy. When people better understand their health, they are empowered to improve their own personal health. No matter the diagnosis, people can feel better than they presently feel both mentally and physically.
The program information applies to patients and caregivers alike. Daly added, “Having a caregiver who understands the diagnosis, treatments and medications of the senior they are caring for is critical for improved health and overall quality of life.”
Daly explained, “As your own patient advocate, you are an active participant, but to be effective you must develop your own health literacy. That means knowing where to look and knowing who to ask. You can ask questions and make well-informed decisions directly impacting your health.”
This knowledge includes understanding your health insurance and how it works. Do not be afraid to ask questions of anyone who is a part of your health care team. Keep personal notes and your medical records organized. Learn to ask for a second opinion with confidence. Learn to communicate your own health priorities and concerns. You should know your health risks, how to manage them and understand and follow your treatment plan. This should include discussing all medications you are taking or that you will be prescribed and knowing their side effects. Finally, do not be afraid to bring a friend or loved one with you to appointments.
There are a multitude of resources that will help empower you or your caregiver. Please visit medlineplus.gov, www.orlandohealth.com/library and https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-to-become-a-patient-advocate-or-navigator-2614922.