Westchester Library System Opens Health Advocacy Resource Center in Shrub Oak

The Westchester Library System (WLS), in partnership with the Medicare Rights Center and the Sarah Lawrence College Health Advocacy Program, recently opened its second Health Advocacy Resource Center in Westchester County, located at the John C. Hart Memorial Library in Shrub Oak. The Health Advocacy Resource Center, a library-based health information center, was established to help older adults and their caregivers to navigate the confusing maze of health care information. It's the first program of its kind to integrate a counseling component.

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Shrub Oak, NY (PRWEB) April 13, 2008

The Westchester Library System (WLS), in partnership with the Medicare Rights Center and the Sarah Lawrence College Health Advocacy Program, recently opened its second Health Advocacy Resource Center in Westchester County, located at the John C. Hart Memorial Library in Shrub Oak. The Health Advocacy Resource Center, a library-based health information center, was established to help older adults and their caregivers to navigate the confusing maze of health care information. It's the first program of its kind to integrate a counseling component.

The first Center, located at the Grinton I. Will Branch Library in Yonkers, opened in November 2007. Both locations represent a new type of service for libraries and a unique collaboration among the project's partners. Visitors to the Center have access to the vast array of WLS print and on-line health care resources, with guidance from trained volunteer counselors. The counselors assist older adults and their caregivers in finding up-to-date and reliable information and answer questions about health care, prescriptions, insurance coverage and claims, and other health topics.

"After successfully launching the first Health Advocacy Resource Center in Yonkers, we are thrilled to offer its valuable services to our older adults and their caregivers in Northern Westchester," said Siobhan A. Reardon, WLS Director. "Our partners play such an important role in this county-wide service. It's our goal that the collaboration will bring improved health literacy and empower our seniors to get the care they need."

Another resource of the Center is the interactive Health Advocacy Workshops, which are designed to train people to be health advocates for themselves and their peers. Among the topics addressed at these workshops are how to speak up for yourself and how to navigate a hospital stay.

"The Health Advocacy Resource Center builds on the resources of each of the partners, to assist the county's seniors and better serve their health care needs," said Lois Steinberg, Ph.D., Westchester Program Director of the Medicare Rights Center. "It is a win-win arrangement for everyone."

Volunteer counselors are trained on Internet search techniques for consumer health information as well as on the WLS library system and health-related links on the WLS website. The Medicare Rights Center provided 15 hours of training, including how to use Medicare Interactive Counselor, its online resource for all Medicare information. The faculty of the Sarah Lawrence Health Advocacy Program provides expertise and assistance when volunteer counselors encounter questions that were not covered in their training. Additionally, the Medicare Rights Center offers a hotline staffed by trained counselors who can help people with complex issues, such as Medicare-related appeals. "Center counselors are a conduit to useful information that seniors might not know about or seek out for themselves," said Marleise Brosnan, a graduate student in the Sarah Lawrence College Health Advocacy Program who serves as the coordinator of the Program for WLS.

The opening event, held recently at the John C. Hart Memorial Library, was attended by Siobhan A. Reardon, WLS Director; Lois Steinberg, Ph.D., Westchester Program Director of the Medicare Rights Center; Don Peters, Yorktown Town Supervisor; Laura Bolotsky, Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services (WCDSPS) and Representative from the Office of Commissioner Mae Carpenter; Aviva Meyer, Representative from the Office of US Congressman John Hall; Kellie Montagnino, Representative from the Office of NY State Senator Vincent L. Leibell; and others from the sponsoring organizations.

Health Advocacy Resource Center at the John C. Hart Memorial Library, 1130 Main Street, Shrub Oak, is open during library hours and staffed with counselors on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. Days and hours may change to better accommodate the needs and schedules of visitors to the Center.

For additional information, please contact Siobhan Reardon at (914) 231-3226 or sreardon@wlsmail.org.

About the Westchester Library System

The Westchester Library System (WLS) includes 38 member public libraries located throughout the County and is one of New York State's 23 public library systems. WLS and its member libraries have a total collection of 5.6 million items, including 4 million books, as well as audio recordings, videocassettes, DVDs, print serials, and other materials. Support from WLS helps expand and enhance the services and resources of local member libraries, enabling them to better serve the public. WLS also ensures that all county residents have excellent library service on-site and on-line. A sponsor of year-round events, WLS helps coordinate featured author events, the annual Book and Author Luncheon, and seasonal reading initiatives. The WLS Adult and Outreach Services Department offers improved access to library services for all residents, training and development of library personnel, services to disadvantaged youth, and the fee-based WEBS Career and Educational Counseling service. WLS will commemorate its 50th year beginning November 2008 with a series of kick-off events leading up to the 50th anniversary celebration.

Press Contact:
Kelly Lee
Co-Communications
914-666-0066
kelly@cocommunications.com

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