Alexander A.


During the previous session Mr. Deardorff updated me on most of his Health Literacy knowledge and provided me with a large packet of information from the American Medical Association (AMA). He explained that he had been to a couple conferences and lecutres around the region featuring the importance of improving health literacy in the community. Before our next meeting, I was to go over the information and then afterwards, submit to him my findings, basically a summary of the important ideas in the information given.

On the weekend prior to our meeting, I watched the AMA video, read the pamphlet on Health Literacy and wrote down a page of notes that I wanted to convey to Mr. Deardorff. The AMA’s Health Literacy packet was filled with information geared towards physicians and their knowledge of the subject. Past research had lead the AMA to realize the direct relationship between Health Literacy and patient well-being, and as a result, they came up with an informational package for physicians in order to have an immediate impact on the healthcare industry.

The following were a few of the key points in the AMA Health Literacy packet that I conveyed to Mr. Deardorff.

Improving the Health Care Environment:

Adopt an attitude of helpfulness

Be nonjudgemental

Include all staff members

Be proactive (look for incomplete information etc…)

Improving Communication:

Slow Down

Use common language

Focus on most important concepts

Involve family members (for memory aids, support, etc)

Use visual aids

Employ the teach-back method

After reviewing the materials, I understood how important improving Health Literacy for the population would be for all Americans, and probably the world. Before I watched the video and read the text, it seemed like the problem would just require a simple index of medical terms commonly used in the health world. However, after reading the packet, it really became apparent how large of a problem Americans have in our healthcare system.

Going over the Health Literacy information from the AMA gave me an inside view into the lives of people who have problems understanding their healthcare system. It was hard for me to imagine being a patient and not understanding what kind of condition my body was in, what the cause was, and how I was going to deal with that–medications etcetera. The packet expained pretty well the problems everyone, even PhD’s, have with understanding terms that are not used in everyday communication.

In Managing A Nonprofit Organization, by Thomas Wolf, he describes what he calls a “Case for support,” as a convincing and clear description of the situation that will get your clients and contributors to move to action (Wolf, 347). In this situation, the AMA is trying to convince physicians, and in general the public and other organizations that Health Literacy is a huge problem in the community. The organization is also attempting to fulfill its mission of helping physicians confront various medial issues by informing them of this major problem. By being proactive on this issue, the AMA is securing the subscribers to their periodicals, membership, and other activities because physicians want to know how they can better serve their patients.

CAHWF – Carlisle Area Health and Wellness Foundation

CAHWF seems to have a great impact on the community because of its great reach to a variety of groups in the region. The organization supports the regions population by funding other nonprofit organizations like the Sadler Health Center, which helps thousands with medical assistance each year. In addition, the organization collaborates with other organizations in the area helping seniors with their health care plans, mental health patients with treatments, and behavioral health patients with managing their substance issues. The foundation produces occasional publications and has one annual report and newsletter that are focused on healthcare improvement for the region. Along with informing the community, the foundation holds special training programs for nonprofit organizations as well as for-profit organizations that focus on improving organizational performance and individual. The organization’s board of trustees brings together various community and business leaders, which not only helps the foundation flourish, but also disperses important information to those leaders.

In writing my Health Literacy briefing for the CAHWF, I have concretely introduced the foundation to the spreading Health Literacy initiative that has been taking place in America and the world. Staff members are often aware of different initiatives throughout the region or nation. However, as a result of the organization not having a specific staff member for identifying healthcare needs, it is hard for the staff to act on their knowledge of additional ways to help the region. I hope that this briefing will allow the CAHWF foundation to realize the great impact investing in Health Literacy improvement will have on the Carlisle area. As a result, CAHWF should sponsor some initiatives and possibly collaborate with other organizations in order to start a regional Health Literacy improvement program. In my almost weekly discussions with Mr. Deardorff, I believe we discussed various ways of improving Health Literacy, many of which are highlighted in my brief, which would have a great impact in the community if effectively implemented.

Interning with CAHWF was an interesting experience, drastically different from any nonprofit work that I have done in the past because they were not foundations. The organizations I had worked for depended on grants and donations to survive, and that is mostly what the class centered around. This was a different aspect from what we read and talked about in class, and it enlightened me about the nonprofit world from a different and very important perspective. The foundation was different, mostly in the financial aspect; however, it still operated under similar aspects of governance, marketing, planning, and personnel policy. The Inter-organizational collaboration readings, along with the Share Our Strength case study, allowed me to understand the different aspects of cooperating with nonprofit organizations. As a result, understanding CAHWF’s initiatives and cooperation with other organizations was made easier.

The importance and of an organization’s accountability and good stance with the community was explained to me in the readings and with President Durden’s visit. The drastic difference between having a good connotation with people in the community and not is great. CAHWF and their work in the community is seen by many in the area, and because of its deep community involvement, many organizations and people are willing to help the organization. This showed me how important maintaining the relationship with the community/stakeholders can help or hurt an organization, and its effectiveness in its programs.


April 4, 2006

Prior to my next meeting with Mr. Deardorff, I had completed a couple hours of online research looking for articles relevant to my health literacy position paper. I skimmed the seven major articles I found before our meeting, and explained to Mr. Deardorff the highlights and findings of the articles. After he was up-to-date with what I had been researching, I suggested I try and get a hold of two contacts he had previously mentioned.

I proceeded to call both of the contacts he had mentioned however, I did not reach either of them. After a couple days, I tried again and as able to reach one of Mr. Deardorff’s contacts Ms. Louella Young, a staff member at the AMA foundation who focused on Health Literacy. We discussed how the AMA foundation initiated the Health Literacy program and why. She mentioned that one goal was to make healthcare simpler and clearer so that all people could gain a better understanding.

Next, I asked Ms. Young about the information that was in the packet, how they were able to obtain the information from the patients and what methods they used. I was hoping to gain some kind of survey that the AMA itself did on the subject, however she did not have any information on the statistics. I told her about my survey in Carlisle idea and she cautioned me about doing a written survey because people who had difficulties with understanding their medication’s directions might also have problems reading a questionnaire. Ms. Young then introduced me to two very important articles on Health Literacy written by the Institute of Medicine and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Finally, she wanted me to tell Mr. Deardorff that if he needed any help in starting a Health Literacy program at the CAHWF, she would be willing to help in that process.

Updating Mr. Deardorff on my research was interesting as we discussed the recent Health Literacy scholarly articles that had been published. Again, I found that as soon as Ms. Young found out that I was working with CAHWF, she was immediately willing to help as much as she could. Above that, she initiated an offer of assistance in any future needs that CAHWF may have on Health Literacy that was very kind of her. This conversation was very heartwarming because of her desire to help.

According to the Carver Governance model, nonprofit boards are supposed to create a clear mission and vision statement along with boundaries that the Executive Director is supposed to follow in order to accomplish those goals. The Health Literacy initiative is a great way to improve healthcare in America and presumably all over the world. If the foundation is supposed to “identifies and addresses healthcare needs and policies, promotes responsible health practices, and enhances access to and delivery of health services” ( One of their primary functions needs to search for the best ways of helping the Carlisle region improve healthcare. The mission statement says that the foundation will ‘identify’ healthcare needs, but with the listed eight person staff, there are no positions that would gleam to have this function. As the organization stands, I believe it would be a significant improvement in accomplishing the mission for the creation of a job that had this duty as its main function as this priority currently seems to exist in the staff’s extraordinary and irregular duties.

4/11 – I had to unfortunately cancel my Tuesday meeting with Mr. Deardorff because I was in the hospital.

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