The CDC Web Site: An Ultimate Resource for College Health
By Carol J. Mulvihill, BSN, RN,C., Director of Health Services,
University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, and Editor of Connections
INFORMATION GIVING: A HEALTH CARE PRIORITY
I truly believe that
one of the most important things we can provide for
our patients is information...credible, accurate, authoritative health
information. One web site that fits the bill and has had a great
deal of practical application to my work in college health is the
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site at
TB INFORMATION RESOURCE
Last year, I had a student who had a positive TB test and was to begin
taking INH. Following his x-rays and visits to his physician and
to the State Health Center, he still had questions and needed more
information for his own understanding and to reassure his roommates
and his parents that he was not contagious with TB.
While he was in my office, I listened to his questions. Then I turned to
my computer and we looked at the CDC web site together, using it as a
resource to find the answers to his questions. Finally, I printed out the
pages of comprehensive information for him to read and share with his
family and roommates. Many of his questions were answered. I remember
the look of relief on his face at the conclusion of his visit. He was
very appreciative of the information and the time spent (about 15
minutes) doing the information research with him.
On another occasion, when one of our faculty members developed
shingles, I found shingles information on the CDC web site, read it myself
first, then spoke with the faculty member by phone and
discussed his questions and concerns. I referred to information on the
CDC site, and also gave him the web site address for the shingles
information so he
could print it out for himself at home.
Another time the CDC web site can be very helpful is in the
event of a communicable disease such as chickenpox on campus. Such an
incident creates an acute need for accurate information to dispel
unfounded fears and obtain answers to urgent questions, such as, "How
long am I contagious?" and "How long will I have this rash?" I have found
that students really appreciate a print out of the information after an
information and counseling session. Then the person with the printed
information becomes the "health expert" among his/her peers.
FLU VACCINE INFORMATION AND PUBLICITY
I have used the CDC web site for the past three years as a resource for
information in preparation for our flu immunization program in October.
First I read all the current info about influenza vaccine, so that
I can be the well informed and dialogue intelligently
about influenza vaccine and answer any questions that come up ...in the
hallway, in the cafeteria, or on the phone or email.
To advertise our flu shot clinic, I do publicity via email messages to
faculty and staff and refer them to articles on the CDC web site which
discuss who should get the flu vaccine and when they should receive it,
the content of the vaccine for that particular season. I include excerpts
from these articles in our email publicity for the program.
In addition, during the flu season, I check out the
Surveillance Summary which is posted beginning at the end
of October and updated weekly
to monitor the incidence of flu nationally and in our states and regions.
TRAVEL HEALTH AND STD GUIDELINES
Volumes of specialized information such as Travel Health and the
comprehensive Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Treatment Guidelines can
be found on the CDC web site as well.
I have also utilized the CDC web site for staff development. In between
patient visits, I have
encouraged our part-time nurse Bonnie to explore the web site and
read information to refresh and build her knowlege background on public
health topics particularly pertinent to college health. It has become a
frequently used Bookmark on our web browser.
HEALTH RESOURCE FILE AND LITERATURE RACK
When student visits slow down a bit (who knows when), I plan to take more
time to browse the CDC web site, to read and print out useful health
information for our health information file and our literature rack. Since
the information is from the U.S. Public Health Service it can be printed
and reproduced freely.
It's great to have the ultimate national public health resource -- the CDC
web site -- available at the click of a Bookmark.
It has provided me with
helpful health information on numerous occasions, and as a result, the
students, faculty, and staff of our campus community have benefited.
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