Karen Komondor

How is the toolkit helping Ohio health departments address health literacy? 

Some Ohio local public health departments want to know how well they’re doing in addressing health literacy in their communities. Karen Komondor (pictured left), director of organizational development and the Health Literacy Institute and Cleveland’s St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, has been instrumental in getting the toolkit in the hands of health commissioners.

Komondor uses the toolkit to educate health departments about health literacy. She did a health literacy training for all Cleveland Department of Public Health department managers in 2018. Komondor says that not only were they impressed by the breadth of the toolkit, they were also excited to incorporate health literacy principles in their work. The Cleveland Department has since completed their assessment – the first step in the Champions toolkit.

In May, 2019, Komondor held a break out session about health literacy at the Ohio Combined Public Health Conference, which involved health commissioners and staff from public health departments throughout Ohio. She discussed the toolkit and provided hard copies of the assessment to attendees. Komondor received a lot of positive feedback about the toolkit materials. 

Why is the toolkit successful?

Komondor attributes health departments’ enthusiasm toward the toolkit to its effectiveness in helping staff recognize health literacy issues they may have overlooked. When she presented personal cases about the challenges with health literacy, Komondor remembers witnessing a lot of “a ha” moments. The hook for them, she says, was realizing that they haven’t implemented much for health literacy. She also said that an incentive to adopt the toolkit was its applicability to accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board.

Cleveland, which is in the process of pursuing accreditation, has shown commitment to the toolkit by creating a health literacy team that includes managers from different departments and the communications director. Komondor hopes the toolkit helps create awareness in other departments and more departments follow Cleveland’s example.