New Community Based Health Literacy Initiative

Despite astonishing advances in medicine, gains in life expectancy are out of reach for millions of Americans simply because they lack the basic skills needed to manage their health in our overwhelmingly complex health care system.

Nearly half of the population has inadequate health literacy, putting them at a far higher risk of hospitalization, persistent poor health, and premature death. More than 90 million people cannot access, understand and use health information and services, yet low health literacy remains a largely hidden epidemic.

Together We Can Change This

Join Say Ah! as it leads the first ever community-based health literacy awareness campaign. Working closely with consumers, organizations, civic groups and the business community, Say Ah! will educate and empower residents with health literacy messaging and help integrate health literacy best practices into community programs. This two-year initiative will launch in early 2015 in Chelsea, New York.

Our vision is to create a health literacy hub, a living laboratory, where all the residents of Chelsea can learn when, where and how to get care. Understand their diagnosis and treatment options. Feel comfortable speaking up and advocating for themselves in the health care system. And make truly informed choices about their health.

This dynamic campaign starts with your support, ideas, and generosity. We welcome individuals, organizations and businesses interested in getting involved in this new initiative, whether they are based in Chelsea or beyond its borders.

About Say Ah!

Say Ah! — as in “Ah, I understand now” — is the only consumer-led organization dedicated to improving health literacy in the nation. Say Ah! educates and empowers patients and consumers through our health literacy workshops, curricula and materials. We partner with health and community service professionals to make health care easier to access, use and understand. And we advocate on behalf of the millions of Americans who struggle to understand their health. Say Ah! is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

A Video We Love!

This great video by the American Medical Association is still the best we have seen that shows low health literacy in action. It is common, and it is profound. It is true to the experience of the more than 100 million Americans who suffer from low health literacy. Please watch it. Please share it. Please join us in making health information and services accessible, understandable and useable to all!


Say Ah!’s Back to School Tips

We wanted to pass along these tips to help parents make their kids’ back-to-school check-ups better,  simpler, and safer. Please feel free to share these tips with friends, family members and colleagues!

1. Get your forms in order! Have all the school, daycare, and athletic health forms you need for each child. Make a list of which doctors to see and the paperwork need signed.

2. Call ahead to schedule the appointments.  If weekdays are a problem for you, find out if the doctor is available on weekends.

3. Make a list of important information and bring it with you.  This includes:

• What medicines your child is taking. Include prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, herbs, and supplements (such as protein drinks).
• Important facts about your child’s health. Include allergies, chronic illnesses, any past surgeries, broken bones, etc.
• Questions or concerns that you – or your child – may have about his or her health.
Make three copies of this list: One for you, one for your doctor, and one to give the front desk for your child’s file.

4. Prepare your child for the visit.  Depending on the age and readiness of your children, let them know what to expect from the visit and what is expected of them. If they are old enough to speak to the doctor on their own, encourage them to do so.

5. Make sure your child is comfortable during the visit.  This should be a positive experience in every way for your child. Talk with your child about anything that is bothering him or her (physically or emotionally), and help resolve the problem or concern.

6. Check that your child’s records are correct and up to date. The lists you just made should square with what is in your the doctor’s file for your child.  This is especially important if your child sees more than one doctor or has been to a hospital or an emergency department.

7. Communicate with your child’s doctor!  Speak up when you have something to say — you are your child’s advocate!  Ask questions whenever you don’t understand something, whether it is a medical term or medication directions.

8. Take notes so you don’t forget what your doctor tells you.

9. Make sure you (and your child if s/he is old enough) understand important information such as medication directions, how to use an inhaler or other medical devices, or what to do if your child is referred to another doctor.

• Ask your doctor to repeat instructions if you don’t get them the first time.
• Check your understanding by saying, “Okay. Let me make sure I’ve got this right,” and repeat back to your doctor what s/he just said in your own words.
• If you go home and realize you have a question, contact your doctor immediately and ask for clarification.

10. Get your child’s weight and height.  This is great information to have as many medications are often given by weight.  NOTE: these numbers can change throughout the year, so use them only as guidelines.

Bonus Tip: Finally – don’t forget to get those school, daycare, and athletic forms signed!