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Lee H. Moultrie II

Kim Williams-Odom

Lee H. Moultrie II and Kim Williams-Odom

Kim Williams-Odom is on a mission. She wants everyone to check up on their health before they check out at the library.

“The library is a place you go to for information. Here, you can find everything from A to Z. So why not use the library to learn how to manage your health?” she asks.

Williams-Odom is a public library manager in a rural area of Hollywood, South Carolina, and works with the REACH Charleston and Georgetown Diabetes Coalition. Lee Moultrie II is the coalition’s community outreach coordinator. Together, they help people find health information in the library, on the Internet and through local health experts.

“I teach people how to use the computer, whether on the Internet or through the library’s catalogs or databases, to find the best information on diabetes and nutrition. I suggest Web sites that are easy to understand and that use culturally relevant images and facts. At health fairs, I also show members of faith-based organizations how to use the Internet and share the information they find on it,” explains Williams-Odom.

Moultrie believes that showing people different ways to find health information will help increase health literacy.

“Low health literacy affects everyone. You can be highly educated and not understand your health,” he says. “Our goal is to connect people with reliable and current information so they can use it to make better health decisions with their doctors.”

The REACH Coalition works toward this goal by teaching people about health resources at libraries. It creates easy-to-understand posters and bookmarks to help people find both print and online information for diabetes and related health issues. It also sets up computer stations in the community so people can use the Internet more easily and at no cost.

Although these resources are available to anyone who needs help, people with less than 12 years of education or who are age 60 and older find the program especially helpful.

“The computer can be frightening for some people. Even using a computer mouse can be a challenge at first. But by the end of our program, people use the computer by themselves,” says Williams-Odom.

“They find the Web sites they bookmarked. They get new healthful recipes. They learn about their medicines. They discover how to talk with their doctors.”

Moultrie says he’s always looking for new and better ways to share health information. “I listen to the radio. I read the newspaper. I look at the television. I try to find messages and words that can get people to understand health matters and health care issues.”

Williams-Odom agrees that the way information is shared is key. “An important part of health literacy is being confident with what you know. If you have the information and you understand it, you can act on it.”