“Figuring out how to be healthy shouldn’t be so hard. We’re here to help.”
This is the repeated motto of the MaineHealth Learning Resource Center, found throughout its website, www.mainehealthlearningcenter.org. Packed with easy-to-find, reliable information, the site is “designed for people to have simple, clean, good information from an organization they can trust,” says Anita Ruff, MaineHealth Community Education Program Director.
Leading a vibrant and dedicated group of MaineHealth’s health educators, Ruff works hard to provide visitors an experience that’s as amazing online as it is at one of the two physical locations in Falmouth or Scarborough, Maine. The goal of the Learning Resource Center is to help patients, community members, and health professionals find the information and support they need to be true partners in care.
What is a Health Educator?
Each of MaineHealth’s Health Educators is part reference librarian, part community connector, and part teacher —sharing resources to develop and implement strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities. From distributing information on health to conducting community classes, the satisfaction of their clients is of paramount importance to the team. “The quickest way for a health educator to go crazy is to not be allowed to help!” says Ruff.
MaineHealth’s health educators decided that in order to be most effective, they would have to make it really simple for people to find them.
Embracing the online world with enthusiasm, the team has a vibrant social media presence as well with a recipe-laden Pinterest account, an energetic Twitter feed, and a well-maintained Facebook presence. On the website, articles on many topics, tools and resources, and blog posts help visitors easily find specific information on a number of topics. In addition to the wealth of online information, visitors can reach a health educator by phone, email, or even live chat.
Collaboration and Success
Working with technologist Tim Blair of Blair Nonprofit Advisors and RainStorm to build the website, the Community Education Program launched the site quietly in the summer of 2014. Always forward-thinking, the team surveyed its visitors and in the summer of 2015, the site was formally launched with a celebration in Portland. Within that first year the site had 31,766 visitors who viewed a staggering 86,334 pages. And they averaged one question every day for the full calendar year. They’ve had a large increase in online class registration for their many courses too, processing almost as much revenue in the first six months of the website as they had for the prior two years combined.
“Thanks to the simplicity of registering online, the tight integration with our website, and the ease of managing our online catalog, we’ve been able to save money and spend less time managing our site and more time growing our program,” remarked Ruff.
“I’m constantly amazed at what great resources we’ve compiled in one place. I think that we did a great job at curating these. We just have good tools and tips for people,“ remarked Ruff, “I also love how easy it is for us to connect with us. I keep hoping that we’ll have some more chats!”
Be sure to bookmark www.mainehealthlearningcenter.org and know that if you’re ever in need of excellent health information, from dealing with a new health challenge, to getting a child to sleep through the night, to starting that new healthier lifestyle, you know exactly where to go.