Local health and medical resources easy to find at new UTHCT-sponsored Web site

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Finding health care resources in East Texas just became a little easier. With the launch of “east texas connect,” residents of 39 Northeast and East Texas counties have better access to crucial health and medical resources, said Cindy Sharp, outreach librarian at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler.

“East texas connect is a Web site that lists medical resources and health-related events for these counties. It will be updated on a regular basis and will include timely information about hospitals, pharmacies, nursing homes, transportation, and public health resources,” Sharp said.

East texas connect is part of the national “Go Local” initiative of MedlinePlus, a consumer health Web site sponsored by the National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, Sharp said. The Watson W. Wise Medical Research Library at UTHSCT created the east texas connect Web site and will oversee and maintain it. East texas connect is one of just 12 Go Local projects in the nation that have gone live since the project began, she said.

“As the only medical library in this area, we felt East Texans would really benefit from this service. There are so many rural areas in our region that may lack medical resources. We hope to link some of those smaller communities together and help people find what they need,” Sharp said.

To access east texas connect, go to http://medlineplus.gov/etc. It also can be reached through the library page of UTHSCT’s Web site.

MedlinePlus links users directly to authoritative, reliable health information from the NIH and other high-quality resources. East texas connect – etc for short -- takes this a step further by linking users to local health services that can help them with their health needs, she said. The Web site is free and allows users to search by disease, provider, service, county, and more.

“Consumers can find local services such as health departments, sleep clinics, mental health services, support groups, and assisted living centers. In addition, health topic pages on MedlinePlus help users locate health information they can trust,” Sharp said.

The Go Local project is funded by a federal grant from the National Library of Medicine. The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, piloted the project.

UTHSCT librarians and volunteers have spent about two years entering and verifying data for the Web site, she said.

“We went live March 6 with 1,625 records in the system, and we’re still adding resources. If people know of a resource in their area that is not listed, they can e-mail us and suggest it be added to east texas connect,” Sharp said.

NOTICE: Protected health information is subject to electronic disclosure.