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What We're Doing

What We're Doing

St. Vincent Charity Medical Center has incorporated in its policies and trainings the following 5 Steps to improve Health Literacy:

Speak slowly
Take time to understand the patient’s concerns. Limit the amount of information provided at each encounter.
Teach back
Use this method to make sure patients truly understand what you are teaching them. Ask, “How will you describe this to your family?” Do not ask, “Do you understand?”
Encourage questions
Empower patients to ask questions about their health care.
Plain language
Use language that is easy to understand. All patients appreciate information that is clear and concise.
Show examples
Draw or show a picture to patients to help convey a complex concept or a body part.
5 Steps
©2011-2013, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center

Patient Documents

To date, more than 100 Patient Education documents have been revised for readability at grade eight or below by Project: Learn. All documents have been reviewed and/or revised through the Health Literacy Committee and placed on the hospital intranet for distribution.

Staff Training

All Caregivers, clinical and nonclinical, are introduced to health literacy at new hire orientation. Here they are given the basic tools and resources to incorporate health literacy into their work. Caregivers who spend most of their time interacting with patients complete additional health literacy training, including nurses, medical residents, physicians and management. Additionally, health literacy has been added into St. Vincent Charity’s annual whole house and clinical competencies.


Adult students from Project Learn completed a hospital “Navigation Tracer” at St. Vincent Charity to evaluate the effectiveness of directional and informational signage around the building. The students then helped the health literacy team review current signage and were involved in selecting new locations and verbiage.

Outside Training/Collaboration

  • Presented to the Institute of Medicine Roundtable in Washington D.C., April 2013
  • Presented at the Association of American Colleges (AAMC) Spring meeting March, 2013
  • Hosted the Ohio Health Literacy Conference Series in 2012, including four Health Literacy 101 Workshops and a Conference Day in October 2012
  • Presented at Crossroads Hospice Annual Conference. May, 2012
  • Provided training to Northeast Ohio Neighborhood Health Services (NEON) April, 2012
  • Presented at the Kidney Foundation of Ohio. 36th Annual Renal Symposium. September, 2011.
  • Provided HL Awareness Training at University Hospitals for Pediatric Grand Rounds
  • Provided HL Awareness Training for staff at the Cleveland Department of Public Health
  • Presented a roundtable discussion, “Increasing Health Literacy Awareness throughout the Continuum of Care”, at the 137th American Public Health Association annual meeting in November, 2009.
  • Delivered a HL skills-based workshop at the community health workers focused Unity Conference, Columbus, Ohio, in June 2010.
  • Presented “Health Literacy: Journey at SVCMC” on a national webinar for CASEINPOINT Webinars through Dorland Health.
  • Trained Physician group at MetroHealth Medical Center
  • Partnered with the VNA to establish health literacy program.

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