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May 25, 2012 - Biomedical Librarians Receive Certification as Consumer Health Specialists
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From left to right: Nancy Pugh, Heather Hoven, and Geneva Staggs

Geneva Staggs, assistant director for Hospital Library Services; Heather Hoven, USA Biomedical Library technical assistant; and Nancy Pugh, USA Biomedical Library supervisor for the Health Information Resource Center at the USA Medical Center, have all been certified by the Medical Library Association as consumer health specialists.

The goals of the Medical Library Association's Consumer Health Information Specialization (CHIS) program is to improve health information services for patients, create partners in the delivery of consumer health information, and increase access to consumer health information courses.

“Courses for the CHIS program focus on the administration of consumer health services and resources to assist patients and patient families in making informed health care decisions in conjunction with their doctors and other health care providers,” Pugh said. “Having the hospital library staff achieve CHIS designation ensures that patients and families referred to the library for information on health concerns are receiving quality assistance.”

The CHIS program has given these Health Information Resource Center (HIRC) personnel more confidence in providing the best health care information possible to not only physicians, but to our patients and community.

“Traditionally, hospital libraries have worked with the professional staff to provide the evidence they need to treat patients the best, based on research proven practices,” Staggs said. “These classes introduced me to more patient assistance than I’ve been used to undertaking. Knowing how to develop services for patients and where to find quality health information written for the lay person has increased my confidence in working with this growing part of our user population.”

The CHIS program puts a special emphasis on providing patients access to the best resources and health information. The USA Biomedical Library has developed a consumer health information kiosk to link people to quality websites. The kiosk is located in the HIRC and is also available at: http://biomedicallibrary.southalabama.edu/health/.

“Health care providers can feel confident that patients and their families will receive quality assistance and reliable information,” Pugh said. “We, the library staff, strive to give the patrons the best consumer-based, easy-to-read information possible, so that they can make informed medical and health decisions in conjunction with their health care provider.”

With this certification, patients and physicians can feel more confident that they are receiving the most up-to-date information.

“We’re here to be so many things: a translator of medicine, a barrier to scams and a guide to those trying to learn about something that possibly before they always thought ‘would never happen to them,’” Hoven said.  “As our mission statement, we provide faculty, staff and students with access to information in the areas of research, teaching and patient care and are a health science resource library for the surrounding Gulf Coast area. As HIRC personnel, we are prepared to work with patients and provide the best information possible.”

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