Health Education & Adult Literacy (HEAL) Program

Program Overview:
Community Pediatrics at Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, in partnership with local Community Based Organizations, initiated the Health Education and Adult Literacy (HEAL) Program in 2007. The HEAL Program addresses the issue of poor health literacy that exists among the underserved population of Washington Heights. Health literacy refers to “the capacity of individuals to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions” (Healthy People 2020) The Health Education and Adult Literacy (HEAL) Program was developed to improve the health literacy of patients in Washington Heights in New York City.

Community volunteers, pediatricians, pediatric residents, medical students, and family support workers from local community based organization have been trained in the HEAL project on how to appropriately address health literacy in different health care and community settings. .

Mission/ Goals:
Address health literacy in order to improve health outcomes among the population served. Our goals are to:
• Develop culturally responsive health education materials regarding medication use and treatment of the common cold, using the basic tenets of health literacy
• Train pediatric providers, family support workers and community volunteers to appropriately address low health literacy
• Implement the curriculum in various health care settings and community based organizations that serve the low-income community

Number of people served per year:
• 180 patients’ caregivers are served per year in Columbia University Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Network Clinics.
• 20 residents and 8 medical students each year are trained in the health literacy curriculum
• 10 volunteers each year are trained in effective communication skills and the basic tenets of health literacy

Outcomes/ Results:
• 82% of patients’ caregivers were positively receptive to the information offered by volunteers, medical residents, and Family Support Workers.
• Increase health literacy knowledge among family support workers trained
• Increased knowledge and improved health care practices when implementing this curriculum in local Head Starts

• Alianza Best Beginnings Program
• Children’s Aid Society Early Headstart Programs
• Columbia University Headstart Program
• Ft. George Community Center
• Literacy Assistance Center
• Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation
• Odyssey House

Contact information:

Program Coordinator
Emelin Martinez
Phone: (212) 305-0901

Faculty Lead/Medical Director
Dodi Meyer MD
Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
Phone: 212-305-6227