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Technology Expert to Train Town Health Officials
March 13, 2000

A librarian at the Health Center who is also an official of the New England Region National Network of Libraries of Medicine has received a $45,000 grant to help Connecticut town departments of health go on line.

Marion Holena Levine, associate director of the Lyman Maynard Stowe library at the UConn Health Center and assistant professor of community medicine in the UConn School of Medicine, is assistant director of the New England Region network.

A specialist in library sciences, information access, databases and on-line information services, Levine was awarded the grant to provide training in retrieving Internet and on-line medical information to all the town directors of health in the state.

"This is a very useful service to Connecticut's cities and towns," says Levine. "By acquiring a grant to provide equipment and an Internet service provider to the town departments of health, we have eliminated the financial burden which, in the case of many towns, is the main impediment to going on line."

The training will benefit towns and local departments of health by:

  • Enabling town health officials to communicate instantly through websites and e-mail with other towns, and with the state Department of Public Health, as well as with the National Centers for Disease Control and other public health agencies;

  • Enabling local health officers to search National Library of Medicine databases and Internet resources, thereby improving diagnosis and investigation of health problems and hazards in the community;

  • Informing and educating people about health issues.

Arthur Cohen, director of health for the Uncas Health District, one of only a handful of health districts in Connecticut with an Internet connection and a website, says his district's website has been very helpful. The Uncas district comprises Norwich and Montville.

"We've got some positive feedback from it," he says. "We've received public health inquiries from all over the country, and even one from Japan that thanked us for a posting we did about sprouts being a possible medium for harmful organisms."

Cohen says the grant to help the local districts go on line will promote public health: "It allows between 108 and 111 departments to go on line," he says. "It provides for equipment and training; it makes provision for each department to have an Internet service provider; and it improves communications to where they should be at the start of the 21st century."

The first year of the grant includes planning for assessment, outreach, evaluation, decision-making, connection and training. The second year of the grant allows for full connection, further training, system enhancement and fine tuning.

"We are pleased to be able to have such a positive effect," Levine says. "The different health agencies really do need to be connected electronically. The New England Region National Network of Libraries of Medicine and the Health Center's Lyman Stowe Library are just the vehicles to help make this possibility a reality."

Pat Keefe