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'Libraries Can Play a Crucial Role in Public Health, According to EveryLibrary'
EveryLibrary shared the following press release via email on Oct. 5:
Libraries Can Play a Crucial Role in Public Health, According to EveryLibrary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Libraries have always played an important role in their communities, but now libraries have an opportunity that can literally save lives. “By facilitating telehealth appointments and routine screening for members of under-served communities, libraries can deliver healthcare to those in need,” said John Chrastka, Executive Director of EveryLibrary and the EveryLibrary Institute. “Many libraries have never considered this approach to helping their patrons, but it’s possible. Some libraries are already doing it.”
In collaboration with telehealth expert Craig Settles, the EveryLibrary Institute is proud to announce a new whitepaper: “Telehealth Services and Public Libraries: Life-changing and life-saving opportunities for libraries to power telehealth solutions in their communities.” Saved from a stroke by telehealth, Craig Settles pays it forward by uniting community broadband teams and healthcare stakeholders through telehealth projects that transform healthcare delivery. In the report, Settles explores the models in use around the [country] that are positively impacting individual and community health while building new relationships for public libraries.
In addition to the report, the EveryLibrary Institute is hosting an on-demand webinar: “Libraries & Telehealth: Tackling the Healthcare Gap!” from Mr. Settles as a companion piece to the report. Everyone who registered for the webinar or downloads the report receives access to both.
Telehealth Is An Important Health Service, But Not Everyone Has Access
Telehealth services help doctors observe, diagnose, initiate or otherwise medically intervene, administer, monitor, record, and/or report on the continuum of care people receive when ill, injured, or wanting to stay well. Federally qualified healthcare centers provide telehealth services to Medicare, and generally, they provide service regardless of an individual’s health status or ability to pay.
To access telehealth services, patients need Internet service and a computer. Many people in rural and in under-served communities have limited access to the Internet, and often are shut out of telehealth services from their local clinics.
What Libraries Can Do
Libraries can help. By facilitating patrons’ access to high-quality, affordable healthcare, libraries can help patrons get routine screenings, check in with doctors about illnesses and follow up with doctors in a low or no cost telehealth appointment.
Partnerships are key to the success of these initiatives. “Healthcare partnerships could include public organizations such [as] departments of health, federally qualified health centers [FQHCs], and nonprofits that deliver health to those that are uninsured,” said Dr. William Payne of Franciscan St. James Health/Specialty Physicians in the report. “Of course the individual medical doctors and independent medical groups will be interested, as well as hospitals and their providers and health systems.”
Grant Money and Federal Funds Are Available
The FCC’s $7-billion broadband grant program enables libraries to significantly increase their laptop and Wi-Fi hotspot lending programs to patrons. The FCC is also giving libraries the option to build and own broadband networks if there is no provider in the area.
In a related effort, the Biden Administration raised money to transform 1,000 barbershops and hair salons into mini-medical centers giving customers vaccines. This project’s success is motivating owners to do more for community health. Libraries are ideal partners that can provide broadband access, digital content, and digital and health literacy customers.
Libraries can give shops laptops, telehealth software, and portable hotspots to provide hypertension screening and other healthcare services suited to customers’ needs. Shops and customers often don’t have computers or Internet access. Telehealth devices such as portable digital blood pressure monitors and digital scales have to be provided separately, possibly through funds from another government agency such as Health & Human Services.
For hypertension screening, shops can take customers’ blood pressures digitally and deliver the data to healthcare telehealth. Partners can recommend treatment when necessary or advisable. Shops can decide on additional telehealth services they or partners want to provide.
Making It Happen
Libraries hoping to help patrons access telehealth can start by seeking IT vendors who want to be the library’s partner to support the library’s mission. Strict and robust Service Level Agreements (SLM) will help facilitate the relationship, and the library administration must commit to holding partners accountable.
Libraries can get help with these efforts from partners like EveryLibrary Institute, a national 501c3 non-profit with a mission to support libraries and librarians in the United States and abroad. EveryLibrary provides training and support to libraries to help them navigate challenges they face, whether those challenges are funding related or simply in serving their communities.
“Organizations like EveryLibrary can help libraries harness the power of the vote and the power of grants to help serve their communities and connect their patrons to healthcare services,” said Mr. Chrastka. “EveryLibrary believes in the power of libraries, and we’re here to help them become more powerful and useful within their communities.”
“Telehealth Services and Public Libraries: Life-changing and life-saving opportunities for libraries to power telehealth solutions In their communities” and “Libraries & Telehealth: Tackling the Healthcare Gap!” are available for download and viewing now: https://www.everylibraryinstitute.org/teleheath_and_libraries_report and https://www.everylibraryinstitute.org/telehealth_2021
EveryLibrary is a 501c4 political action committee dedicated to building voter support for libraries. Since 2012, EveryLibrary has provided donor-supported pro-bono advising and consulting to 63 library campaigns helping to win over $220 million in stable tax funding. Beginning in 2016, EveryLibrary has provided strategic and tactical support to school library communities on education and tax policy, along with supporting dozens of challenges to school library budgets and school librarian positions in schools and districts across the country.
About EveryLibrary Institute
The EveryLibrary Institute is a national 501c3 non-profit with a mission to support libraries and librarians in the United States and abroad. We partner with allied organizations including foundations, philanthropic organizations, associations, non-profits, and academic institutions to enhance the perception of libraries and librarianship through direct engagement with the public.
About Craig Settles
Saved from a stroke by telehealth, Craig Settles pays it forward by uniting community broadband teams and healthcare stakeholders through telehealth projects that transform healthcare delivery. Mr. Settles views telehealth as the “Killer App” that can close the digital divide because everyone experiences illness or cares for someone who is ill. Telehealth technology and broadband in the home provide avenues for other home-based technology services that can improve quality of life, such as companion distance-learning apps, a home business app, and home entertainment apps.
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