LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 20, 2017) — Health Literacy Kentucky and the University of Kentucky Center for Health Services Research (CHSR) collaborated to sponsor the inaugural Kentucky Health Literacy Award which aims to recognize agencies or programs that are innovative in addressing health literacy and improving the health of the citizens of the Commonwealth.
Health Literacy Kentucky is a statewide coalition of volunteers who work toward see a healthier Commonwealth through improved health literacy. UK CHSR focuses on transdisciplinary collaborative efforts with researchers and organizations at the local and national levels to develop and implement projects that address priority issues in the field of health services, with the ultimate goal of improving health outcomes for individuals and populations. In June 2017, Health Literacy Kentucky signed its first Memorandum of Understanding with the UK CHSR. The Center now houses the coalition and provides administrative and operational infrastructure support.
The first-place winner of the inaugural Kentucky Health Literacy Award was La Casita Center for their initiative, Una Mano Amigo, “A Friendly Hand.” With its creation in 2013, Kentucky had its first culturally-specific support group for Hispanic/Latino families with children with special needs. Una Mano Amiga combats health literacy barriers by providing information, education, advocacy and support free of charge and in linguistically and culturally appropriate ways. Their efforts have grown from 11 families in 2013 to 130 in 2017. The program has served a wide range of participants with mild to severe special care needs, including autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and hearing and speech impairments.
Catholic Health Initiatives Visiting Nurse Association Health at Home received the runner-up award for its Health Connections Program, which operated from July 2013 to June 2017. The program focused on social determinants of health among low-income, vulnerable, urban populations. Two interdisciplinary teams, consisting of a nurse, a licensed practical nurse, a social worker, and two community health workers, facilitated the 90-day program. They assessed health literacy and developed tools to assist in health coaching and navigation, such as user-friendly logs for blood pressure and glucose monitoring. They were able to reduce avoidable returns to the hospital within 30 days following discharge by 50 percent for their program “graduates.”
The awards were presented at the December Kentuckiana Health Collaborative (KHC) Community Health Forum, Improving Health through Literacy, another collaborative effort by KHC, HLK, and UK's CHSR. The winners of the Kentucky Health Literacy Award collectively deliver creative, insightful, caring health delivery as community-based organizations that are exceptionally committed to improving the health literacy and well-being of everyone in their communities. Uniformly, they demonstrate a passion and continuous commitment to making their communities healthier and more vital.