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Erie County Medical Center Improves Health Literacy

Erie County Medical Center recognized that congestive heart failure (CHF) patients do not always receive sufficient information to manage their condition after leaving the hospital. To confront this issue, a hospital-wide multidisciplinary team developed a health literacy program comprised of multiple educational approaches. Staff teach patients to improve food selections when shopping, to envision the sodium content in common foods, and to budget appropriately. Through bedside teaching, food model demonstrations, food menu selection, and post-hospitalization discharge telephone calls, patients gain access to important information for their ongoing wellness. Staff confirm patient comprehension and information recall with teach-back methods.

The percentage of patients who received 60 minutes or more of heart failure education increased by 108% since the program’s inception. The majority of patients reported that they decreased their consumption of canned soups and fast food after receiving the training. Furthermore, more than 99% of patients in 2016 reported that they have a clear understanding of the dose, route, and frequency of new and continued medications post-hospitalization.