CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – As construction nears completion on a major renovation and expansion of the historic Coyle Free Library in downtown Chambersburg, The Franklin County Library System and Summit Health have announced a partnership that aims to improve local literacy rates and bring accurate health information into the hands of community members.
As a part of the partnership, Summit Health will sponsor computer-device check-out kiosks to be housed within the renovated library. Free resources to include pamphlets and other written materials will be available to community members near kiosk. An outreach from this partnership will include classes and information sessions targeting the health needs identified in the Community Health Needs Assessment as well as priorities identified for Pa Forward’s health literacy initiative.
“The most recent Community Health Needs Assessment, a compilation of health and related risk statistics Franklin County residents, indicates county education levels are worse than state and national averages,” explained Summit Health’s Vice President for Community Relations Barbara Rossini.
The study showed 16.2 percent of Franklin County residents have no high school diploma, whereas the state average is 10.6 percent. There are also fewer Franklin County residents with bachelor level education or higher than the state average, with 17.7 percent reported in Franklin County compared to a 29 percent figure statewide. The trend was also true for early education, as Franklin County 3 and 4-year-olds enrolled in pre-school was 24.4 percent compared to the state average of 45.2 percent.
In response to the assessment, Summit Health outlined educational and community based engagement as a priority in its Community Health Improvement Plan, describing goals of increasing the quality, availability, and effectiveness of educational and community-based programs designed to prevent disease and injury, improve health, and enhance quality of life outside the traditional healthcare setting to include schools, worksites, healthcare facilities and community.
Early childhood education is also cited in the plan as a priority, to increase the proportion of children who are ready for school in all give domains of healthy development: physical development, social-emotional development, approaches to learning, language and cognitive development.
Per PA Forward’s Health Literacy initiative, nearly half of adults have difficulty understanding and using health information, and most people seek health information online rather than by speaking with medical professionals directly. Unfortunately, only one out of five popular search engine links will lead a consumer to relevant and accurate information. Furthermore, the initiative reports nothing affects health status more than literacy skills, not age, income, employment status of racial background.
“With that knowledge comes the responsibility to search for opportunities to make positive change. We are thrilled about this partnership because it offers us to stand with the Franklin County Library System and to support their mission, while also ensuring our community has access to technology and health information,” Rossini said.
FCLS has eight library locations in Franklin County with a mission to “create learning opportunities that lead to personal discovery, growth, and enjoyment”.
“Our area libraries are vital to the community as we offer free and equal access to information, programs, and technology,” noted FCLS Director of Development Mark Story. “Every citizen benefits from relevant, robust library services.”
The devices will be made available to all patrons of the library.
Construction on the 5.5 million dollar project lead by the Franklin County Library System started in May 2016 with an expected completion date by the end of November. The new library will include multiple meeting rooms, a rooftop garden, a café style food market, and a business center.
Summit Health is a non-profit network of hospitals and physician practices dedicated to building a healthier community.
As Franklin County's leading healthcare provider, Summit Health offers family care, specialists, lab and imaging services, a fitness center, urgent care centers, and two award-winning hospitals.