Health Education Newsletter

October 2020

The Seasons Are Changing, New Efforts Are Underway, But Our Commitments to Patient Wellness Remain the Same

The Mount Sinai Department of Health Education is dedicated to improving patient health outcomes and addressing health disparities. Our work takes a "big picture" approach, focusing on efforts that empower both providers and patients, creating a more equitable health care system as a whole.

We believe that quality health education can meaningfully impact individual and community health. Health care providers play a critical role in communicating information and education that allows for patients to manage their health outside of the clinical interaction. We're here to support these communication efforts so that all patients have the information, tools, skills, and resources they need to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

Reflections on a Summer Program

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The Summer Institute on Public Health and Racial Justice

This past summer, our department launched an ambitious, innovative new program for Black youth in NYC. Dedicated to exploring the intersections of public health, racism, and community activism, our goal was to inspire young people to see themselves as future leaders in this work.

At the end of our 7-week program, here's what we found:

100% of participants reported:

  • an increased understanding of the relationship between structural racism and public health
  • confidence in practicing activism after participating in this program
  • a belief that they can make a difference in their community
  • that this program was a productive way to spend their summer

Here's what some of our participants said:

I really enjoyed how our guest speakers were very informative and engaging which allowed me to gain a better understanding of the issues. I also appreciated how all our guest speakers were Black professionals as they provided experiences/perspectives that other professionals would not be able to.”

All of the facilitators were compassionate and did an excellent job of creating a safe and non-judgmental space. I appreciated how they made themselves available to listen to our needs and always asked for our input.

I learned a lot about public health through the presentations and the CBOs, and I can take this newfound knowledge and educate my peers and family about the intersection of race and public health.”

Our department extends a tremendous "thank you" to the MSHS staff who served as expert guest speakers, to our program interns Natalie Montes and Chantelle Mcleish, and to the community partners who helped make this program possible in myriad ways.

Prenatal Health Education Goes Virtual!

Bringing Culturally Affirming Prenatal Programming to Patients and Their Families Through Zoom

Exactly one year ago, our department partnered with the staff of Ob/Gyn KP-E-Level to develop brand new, culturally affirming prenatal health education classes specific to the priorities and needs of their patient population.

This month, we are thrilled to have launched these class offerings through a virtual platform. Patients continue to report that these classes make them feel more comfortable, confident, and prepared for both childbirth and the postpartum recovery period.

Classes are offered each day, Monday - Thursday. To learn more, please contact Alyssa Gale, Director of Health Education, at

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Exciting Things Are Around the Bend...

Planning is Underway for a New Supportive Staff Resource

As explicitly stated by the Joint Commission, effective communication is a cornerstone of patient safety and wellness. All providers serve patients who struggle with low health literacy, whether easily apparent or not. Providers need and deserve support in meeting these patients' unique and often more challenging needs.

With the guidance of a steering committee which includes leadership representation from a diverse range of departments, The Department of Health Education is working to bring you a single source of internal expert consultation to support high-impact, high-volume health education and communication efforts system-wide. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that all aspects of patient care at MSHS are infused with health literacy best practices.

Stay tuned for more information about an official launch, a full scope of services, and a how-to on requesting support.

Health Education Quick Tip!

Help Patients Make Informed Decisions About Holiday Gatherings and Travel

Throughout the pandemic, risk assessment has been an important component of how patients make decisions about their health and the health of their loved ones. As health care providers, it's important to remember that there's often little correlation between quantifiable levels of risk, a patient's anxiety around risk, and their actual risk-related behaviors.

November and December are just a few weeks away, and many patients will be deciding how to spend the winter holidays. Who will they gather with? Will they travel to someone else's home? To another city? Another state?

When helping your patients think through their upcoming holiday plans, keep in mind all of the explicitly non-scientific factors that may encourage greater risk-taking:

  • Cultural expectations - are large gatherings important? is it considered offensive or insulting to turn down an invitation? are you expected to cook or provide food for others?
  • Religious affiliations - has your religious institution been offering virtual services? are there certain days that are more important for you to attend in-person services than others?
  • Family obligations - are you expected to spend the holidays with your parents or other elders? are you expected to host family in your home? is it important to you that your children have these holidays plans?

As we ask questions about health conditions, high-risk family members in the home, and other more "science-based" considerations, remember that feelings often play just as big of a role - if not bigger - in decisions about risk.