Navigating the Medicare system can be a full-time job, as many older adults and their caregivers know. But Westchester residents have a new place to go with their questions: the Health Advocacy Resource Center at the Grinton I. Will Library in Yonkers.
The center is a collaborative effort between Sarah Lawrence’s Graduate Program in Health Advocacy, the Westchester Library System, and the Medicare Rights Center, an independent source of health care information and assistance whose Westchester program is directed by Lois Steinberg MA ’00.
The Health Advocacy Resource Center is the first program of its kind in the country. Volunteers from the Medicare Rights Center provide health care consumers with one-on-one counseling, access to online resources, presentations about prescription drug benefits, and workshops on topics like “Speaking Up to Your Doctor” and “How to be Safe in the Hospital.”
Representing Sarah Lawrence, Marleise Brosnan ’09, a second-year Health Advocacy student, coordinates the resource center. In addition to scheduling the volunteer rotation and publicizing the center’s unique offerings, Brosnan provides expertise on issues that are not strictly related to insurance, such as tips on how to maximize limited time with physicians.
Prior to coming to Sarah Lawrence, Brosnan was the head of human resources at an international corporation. Her past experience with benefits programs and her current academic work are useful in her conversations with clients. Counseling sessions last at least an hour, she says, because “Health care is connected to so many other life issues.”
Steinberg, who had the idea for the resource center while a graduate student in health advocacy, views the collaboration between the library, the Medicare Rights Center, and Sarah Lawrence as “the perfect partnership. We are actually training people to become their own health advocates.”
Responding to the vital need for such resources, the second Health Advocacy Resource Center was scheduled to open in February at the Shrub Oak Library.