PLATTSBURGH - Planned Parenthood of the North Country New York Inc. was recently awarded the 2010 Robyn Menin Grant for Promoting Ingenuity in Risk and Quality Management from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The $50,000 grant is given annually to an affiliate for "innovative work in risk and quality management."
Martha E. Stahl, vice president of external affairs for PPNCNY, said the grant will be used to create "an interactive health literacy software tool that will assess the accessibility of the organization's written materials to patients with limited literacy."
"The whole purpose of it is to make sure that our written materials are accessible and are written at a reading level that's appropriate for our general population," said Stahl. "It's as simple as instead of using a medical term for a growth, for example, calling it a 'bump' or something like that. It will be a more comprehensive format."
Over the past few years, PPNCNY has been working with a statewide organization called Family Planning to assess how PPNCNY has been doing in terms of cultural competency, said Stahl. With other Planned Parenthood affiliates, issues such as bilingual signage or reading materials are more prevalent issues. However, in the North Country, patient reading comprehension was found to be among chief concerns.
"We self-identified that as an area where we needed to do some work," said Stahl.
Amy Valentine, coordinator of quality assurance and risk management for PPNCNY, said the organization will work locally with a software designer to create the program, which will be utilized in Microsoft Word much like a spell check or grammar check program. The software will search for and replace difficult terms - both health-related and otherwise - as well as calculate readability and create detailed reports. In the end, PPNCNY will own the rights to the program and create a style guide so it will be able to share both across the Planned Parenthood federation.
"What we'll have done is created a dictionary of all types of other words we can use to substitute to difficult language," said Valentine. "This tool will make our printed materials much more readable for our patient population, very specific to women's reproductive health."
Stahl said she expects the software program to be in the early testing phases sometime next year. Once the program is formally implemented in the Plattsburgh office, it will be made available to other Planned Parenthood locations.
"This is exciting," Stahl said of the grant and the new program. "There are about 88 affiliates that will be able to take advantage of this work. But, we'll be able to use it first. It's great."
"This will add to the quality care that we provide to our patients which is always at the forefront of Planned Parenthood's mission," added Valentine. "It's quite the honor."