More than 40% of Family Health Care clients are functionally illiterate.


A literacy program at a health center?

Researchers at Northwestern University found a strong correlation with low health literacy and higher death rates when they followed more than 3,000 medicare enrollees in four cities for six years. Their study showed that illiteracy is an independent risk factor associated with higher mortality from all diseases. Among those who died due to cardiovascular disease, more than twice as many deaths were from the inadequate literacy group (19.3%) as the adequate literacy group (7.9%.) The marginal literacy group fared part-way between (16.7%.) Archives of Internal Medicine, July 2007

More than a third of the adult residents in two of the three zip codes primarily served by Family Health Care do not have high school diplomas, and the third has a lower proportion without a diploma only because that zip code (66103) includes a high number of medical and nursing students at KU.

Certified teachers- provide hand-on assessments, tutoring and referrals.


à               Adults with low literacy are provided assessment and opportunities to improve skills and to complete GED preparation.

    • Staff throughout the clinic have been trained to identify adults with reading problems and refer them to our FLP team for assessments.
    • Assessed clients are routed to a variety of resources to improve their reading, math and other knowledge sets in order to prepare for GED testing.
      • Mentoring through KC Literacy and other organizations for remedial math and reading.
      • Proctoring and GED tutoring through FLP volunteers.
      • GED testing is provided through the Community Colleges.

*Punky Thomas- Family Literacy Program Coordinator

For information ask for Punky*.


Books, volunteers and donations are welcome.
We provide books for children through community donations in conjunction with gifts of new books through the Kansas City Reach Out and Read. Punky Thomas, a certified teacher, is the core of our program. Thanks to Punky and the supporters the program, Family Health Care helps people develop their potential. Through the Family Health Care Literacy Program, we provide assessments, tutoring and other supports to help adults develop skills in order to earn a high school level General Educational Development (GED) certification which leads to better jobs as well as improved health outcomes.


During the early years of the clinic’s work, Family Health Care offered special health information for people with low literacy. Pill charts with clock pictures and pictures of food were provided to help patients understand how to take the medicines.
We also began to provide used books for children, many gathered from local garage sales. Although Dr. Diane Lucas and Dr. Sharon Lee gave out books and modeled reading with the children, many of the adults did not follow-through. It became clear that the children were unlikely to learn to read from parents who were not able to read themselves. Over time, Family Health Care began to focus on helping the parents with reading as well.

Almost half of the adults in the zip codes surrounding the clinic have not graduated from high school.