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Using computers with Internet access helps to eliminate paper clutter in a resource center, says Carol Maller, MS, RN, CHES, patient education coordinator for Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Albuquerque, NM.
"I feel we should be going paperless in our center instead of having stacks of pamphlets that get outdated and take resources to track. By using computers and going automated, you eliminate some of the manpower that is required with paper collection," she explains.
The computer at the VA is located behind the reception desk in the resource center, and only staff are permitted to retrieve information from a Web site. "Information is from approved sites that I oversee. They are mostly government sites that are not copyrighted," says Maller.
Although visitors are allowed to use the computers at the learning center at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, they are guided by staff.
"We act as a filter, not to control what information they get, but to help them gain a little better sense of the information that is within their reach and help them to find information quickly," explains Zeena Kies Engelke, RN, MS, senior clinical nurse specialist for patient and family education at the health care facility.
At the Senior Resource Center located at J. Paul Sticht Center on Aging and Rehabilitation at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC, the Web sites with information pertinent to visitors are bookmarked. This process makes it easier for people to find information, says Patricia Suggs, MDiv, MEd, PhD, coordinator for the center.
One of Maller’s favorite Web sites is Healthfinder. Following are the Internet addresses for this site and a few others that provide access to consumer health information:
• Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Information on health topics from A to Z. These topics include ulcers, shingles, fetal alcohol syndrome, cold sores, and brain injury. Statistics and publications also are available.
A consumer health information Web site sponsored by the United States government. Resources, links to organizations, libraries, on-line journals, and databases. Site has health information for such patient groups as infants, children, teens, adults, and seniors.
This site has drug information, a pharmacy resource directory, and health information.
• KidsHealth at the AMA
Topics covered include childhood nutrition, safety and accident prevention, childhood infections, emergencies, and first aid.
• Wellness Web, The Patient’s Network
Sections on conventional medicine, alternative medicine, and nutrition and fitness. The conventional medicine section includes a master index of diseases and conditions; a cancer, cholesterol, and heart center; and information on diagnostic tests. Contents for alternative medicine include an index of diseases, conditions, and treatments; cancer prevention/treatments; herbs and supplements; and therapeutic systems and approaches.