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Queens Library HealthLink

Queens Library
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Innovation Leader: Loida Garcia-Febo, Assistant Coordinator, New Americans Program and Special Services, loida.garcia-febo@queenslibrary.org

Problem Statement

According to data provided by the Queens Cancer Center, Queens communities suffer disproportionately from cancer disparities, including late-stage cancer detection.

Innovation

Queens Library HealthLink (QLHL) is a five-year, community-based participatory research partnership to increase access to cancer prevention, screening, treatment and education at the population level. The partnership includes Queens Library, the American Cancer Society, Queens Cancer Center of Queens Hospital Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. QLHL utilizes public libraries as bases for community organizing and education, data collection and program planning and implementation. Through QLHL, 20 public libraries, selected using public health and census data, serve as bases for creating Cancer Action Councils (CACs), partnerships with local community organizations possessing the greatest reach into the community. CACs are working groups of community members and leaders who have an interest in cancer and health and hold the trust of their neighbors and fellow community members. CACs use their local knowledge and expertise to inform program planning to extend the reach and effectiveness of standard services and to specifically tailor interventions to meet their local needs in order to maximize the impact in the community.

Progress

To date, 16 of 20 CACs have been formed through Queens Library. Through QLHL outreach, more than 4000 people have been reached. Approximately 500 have received mammograms and clinical breast exams through CAC events, and of those women at least ten have begun cancer treatment. (Early detection is essential in prolonging the lives of cancer survivors.) Screenings, and follow-up treatment if necessary, are available regardless of insurance status, immigration status or ability to pay through partners such as the Queens Cancer Center.

Our QLHL CACs have presented a myriad of educational cancer programs, ranging from lectures and panel discussions to DVD screenings and quilting groups designed to raise awareness. Programs have been delivered in English, Spanish, Korean and Chinese in libraries, community/senior centers, hospitals, houses of worship and public housing. CACs have tailored programs to diverse audiences, including those designed to reach new immigrants, adults learning English, seniors, parents and medical providers.

To complement the cancer programming and resources being introduced to each community, QLHL has recently focused on programming to increase community capacity, including advocacy and grant writing trainings. By linking community leaders, resources have been shared well beyond the scope of cancer, as well.