The Niagara Falls Public Library has received a federal grant that will give residents the opportunity to utilize telehealth services.
The National Institutes of Health’s Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) All of Us National Program awarded the Niagara Falls Public Library $28,937 in federal funding for its “NFPL Create Your Healthy Life” project.
A press release said, “Over the past several years, and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth services have become a common way for doctors to diagnose and care for patients in a remote setting. While these services are an easy alternative to in-person medical appointments, not everyone has the ability to access these resources.”
According to U.S. Census data, about 20% of City of Niagara Falls residents report not owning a computer device. In addition, almost 30% of residents report no access to broadband.
The Niagara Falls Public Library is using this grant to close that gap and offer private, secure telehealth access to residents.
With the funding, the NFPL plans to build two sound-dampening booths for library users to research health topics and conduct telehealth appointments. The booths will feature state-of-the-art computers equipped with cameras and microphones to give residents an opportunity to privately connect with doctors through telehealth. Both booths will be installed in the first-floor computer area of the Main Library. One booth will be designed for a single user. The other will accommodate two people at one time – in the event a person needed assistance during a telehealth appointment.
“In such a time where remote work and appointments are becoming the norm, this grant will allow the Niagara Falls Public Library to provide a lifeline to residents,” Mayor Robert Restaino said. “By providing a secure and confidential area for residents to access telehealth, we are giving them the ability to truly take control of their health care and that of their families.”
Niagara Falls Public Library Executive Director Sarah Potwin said, “We are grateful to NLM for funding this impactful opportunity. It is projected that this partnership will result in several measurable benefits. Not only will Niagara Falls citizens have access to health research, but they will also be able to engage in telecommunication such as a Zoom or WebEx session with a degree of privacy. Our partnership is doing what libraries do: filling the role of community empowerment engine. We aim to build our citizens up by giving access to betterment."
Librarians will be fully trained on the new equipment to ensure their ability to properly assist users. Residents will have the opportunity to reserve these booths for use.
The award also includes a one-year subscription to Gale Health and Wellness, an online database with easy-to-use health information. It offers 24/7 access to medical journals, magazines, reference works, and multimedia resources.
The Network of the National Library of Medicine has partnered with the NIH All of Us Research Program to offer awards to libraries and community-based organizations to fund health programming and digital information access projects. This award aims to expand digital and health literacy, encourage participation in community science, and offer resources to strengthen partnerships with communities underrepresented in biomedical research. Funded projects will also increase awareness of National Library of Medicine health information resources and All of Us. These awards are managed by the NNLM All of Us National Program.
All of Us Research Program is supported and overseen by the National Institutes of Health and aims to accelerate health research and medical breakthroughs, enabling individualized prevention, treatment and care for all. Learn more at JoinAllofUs.org/nlm or JoinAllofUs.org/bnm.